SARANAC LAKE - Adirondack Health is restricting visitors to its birthing center at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake to protect infants from an outbreak of what hospital officials describe as a pertussis-like illness.
"Infants are among the highest at-risk group for complications from pertussis," commonly known as whooping cough, hospital officials said in a press release issued Wednesday. For the protection of the infant, only the father or significant other is being allowed to visit the birthing center at this time."
There are no other visitor restrictions at the hospital, although people who have a cough may be asked to wear masks in certain areas of the hospital or in a doctor's office.
AMC spokesman Joe Riccio told the Enterprise that grandparents who are healthy will also be allowed to visit the birthing center. He said the hospital learned of a recent increase in pertussis-like cases through public health officials and local private medical practices.
Pertussis is a contagious bacterial infection that causes an uncontrollable, violent cough lasting several weeks or even months. Complications from pertussis can be severe for infants and children.
The pertussis bacteria can be found in the mouth, nose and throat of people who are healthy. However, when a healthy person comes in close contact with a susceptible infant or young child, those same bacteria can now cause the child to become sick.
Pertussis can occur at any age, the hospital's release states. It may begin with cold-like symptoms or a dry cough that can progress into episodes of severe coughing. Children who are too young to be fully vaccinated and those who have not yet completed the primary vaccination series are at highest risk for severe illness.
Hospital officials said individuals who think they or their child may be experiencing the symptoms of pertussis should contact their doctor.