WISCONSINREPORT.COM (11/05/2010) - NASCAR Champion, Jeff Gordon, and the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign announced Maria Bennett from Florida, as the grand prize winner of the Sound Off About Pertussis song contest, at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, has been known to cause deaths, and is on the rise in Wisconsin, Texas, California, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and South Carolina.
Gordon announced the contest in August and challenged adults to help educate others about the disease and how they can help protect their families by creating an original song and video.
Bennett and others nationwide submitted creative entries, and people logged on to watch and vote for their favorite finalist entry. Bennettís motivational song received the most votes, besting top contenders from Ohio and Oklahoma by a very close margin. Her winning video and the runner-up videos are online at SoundsofPertussis.com/songcontest.
"Iím a big fan of Jeff Gordon and was excited to learn about his involvement with the contest, and the opportunity to join him in the fight against pertussis," said Bennett. "As a mother, I hope that my song will help parents everywhere to understand how they can help protect themselves and their families from this contagious disease."
Bennett, who has been a long-time NASCAR and Gordon fan, has sung and written music as a hobby for many years. The birth of Gordonís first child, Ella, inspired Bennett to compose a song in her honor, titled "Overwhelmed." Bennett found out about the Sound Off About Pertussis contest through Gordonís website right around the time of the birth of Gordonís son, Leo Benjamin, and decided to enter. Bennett also penned a book in 2007, Lyrical Laps and Laughs, a humorous recap of each of the 2007 Sprint Cup season NASCAR races as seen through the eyes of a Jeff Gordon fan.
Bennett has long dreamed of singing the National Anthem at a NASCAR race. As part of the contest grand prize, while she wonít get the chance to sing the Star Spangled Banner, she will be performing her winning song, "Give Pertussis A Whooping," for a live audience on the Performance Racing Networkís "Up to Speed Stage" at the Speedway on Sunday.
"Itís an honor for me to have such amazing and talented fans, like Maria," said Gordon, who is a spokesperson for the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign. "I canít thank her enough for helping to spread the word about whooping cough."
Pertussis is often perceived to be a disease of the past, but is making a deadly come back across the United States. The annual number of cases reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recent years is dramatically higher than in the past. From 2000 Ė 2009 the total number of pertussis cases reported to the CDC was approximately 150 percent higher than the total number of cases reported during the 1990s.
Pertussis is a highly contagious, vaccine preventable disease that can last for weeks. The disease is usually milder in adults and adolescents, but can be potentially fatal in infants. Infants and young children with pertussis will often experience severe coughing that is followed by a whooping sound as they gasp for breath and, sometimes vomiting following a coughing episode.
Pertussis is caused by bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, which are found in the mouth, nose and throat of the person with the disease. It is spread through contact with respiratory droplets generated when that person coughs or sneezes.
California declared a pertussis epidemic in June 2010. As of Oct. 19, 2010, nearly 6,000 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of pertussis have been reported statewide by the California Department of Health. Moreover, 10 infants in California have died from pertussis so far this year, compared to just three in all of 2009.
In Texas, pertussis has been an ongoing problem. According to the CDC, the state of Texas has reported more than 2,000 provisional cases of pertussis so far this year, and 2,326 cases in 2009. Six Other states, such as Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Wisconsin have reported outbreaks and a rise in cases this year, too.
"The need for pertussis education and awareness is clear and urgent, and we hope the universal power of music will motivate people to take action and get an adult pertussis booster vaccination," said Gordon.
"Many parents donít realize that the pertussis immunizations they received as children wear off over time and that they need a booster as an adult so they donít get the disease and give it to their children. Mariaís song is a great tool to help educate parents about how they can help protect themselves and their families," Gordon pointed out.
The pertussis resurgence poses a particularly deadly threat to babies nationwide as the disease can be fatal in infants. In recent years, about 92 percent of pertussis deaths have occurred in infants younger than 12 months of age, and researchers found that family members are responsible for spreading the disease to infants up to 80 percent of the time.
The Sounds of Pertussis Campaign urges parents and adults in close contact with a baby, those within a babyís inner "circle" to get a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) booster vaccine to help reduce their risk of catching and spreading the highly contagious disease. This helps create a protective circle, or "cocoon" around the vulnerable infant.
To emphasize this need and encourage communication among a babyís inner circle of family and friends, the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign recently launched BabyCircleSM, a new Facebook application that enables parents to keep their friends and family up to date on their babyís latest developments, like babyís first smile, while allowing them to maintain the identity of their own Facebook profiles.
Parents can give their loved ones a "peek into their babyís mind" by posting thoughts, moods, and comments all from the babyís point of view. The application features tools to help parents easily track and share their babyís photos, everyday moments, and major milestones, and ensures privacy and security by making a babyís page viewable only to select friends and family members. Through BabyCircle, the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign hopes to help ensure that the only thing adults are spreading to the infants in their lives is love and warm wishes.
Additionally, the campaign is helping to make it easier for the adults in a babyís inner circle to get the Tdap booster vaccine with a new "Where Can I Get Vaccinated" tool. The latest offering, available at www.SoundsofPertussis.com, enables adults to enter their zip code to locate nearby health-care providers who administer the Tdap booster vaccine.
Sanofi Pasteur and March of Dimes are working together on the Sounds of Pertussis Campaign to help protect the health and wellness of adults and infants. The mission is to raise awareness about pertussis and to let parents and others in close contact with infants know how important it is to get vaccinated with an adult Tdap vaccine.
March of Dimes is the leading organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and through its premier event, March for Babies, March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
Sanofi-aventis, a leading global pharmaceutical company, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of everyone. Sanofi-aventis is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the sanofi-aventis Group, provided more than 1.6 billion doses of vaccine in 2009, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development.
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