Statewide, there have been 246 cases of Pertussis (whooping cough) reported so far in 2014. Cascade County has had 22 confirmed cases of pertussis this year, twelve of them confirmed since December 10, 2014.

Pertussis is a contagious respiratory illness that, in the beginning, can have the same symptoms as the common cold. These can include runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and low-grade fever. After about 1 to 2 weeks, the dry, irritating cough evolves into coughing spells. At the end of a spell, the person may make a whooping sound when breathing or may vomit. Adults and adolescents with pertussis may have milder or atypical symptoms, such as a prolonged cough without the coughing spells or the whoop. To hear what pertussis sounds like, click here.

There are a number of steps that you can take to help prevent the spread of pertussis.

  • Ensure that you and your family are immunized against pertussis. This is essential not only for children, parents, and child care workers, but also grandparents, relatives, and friends that may be in frequent contact with young children. If you are concerned about affording vaccination, CCHD is able to offer vaccine to those who are in contact with children and are underinsured or uninsured. The only cost would be a nominal administration fee. CCHD will not turn anyone away due to inability to pay.
  • Fully vaccinated children and adults can still get pertussis, however, symptoms appear to be much less severe. If someone in your family has prolonged or unusual coughing, they should see their healthcare provider for evaluation.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes, and teach your children to do the same.
  • Practice frequent, thorough hand washing.
  • Stay home when sick, and keep ill children home from school and daycare.

Please remember that you are not just helping keep your family healthy and safe, you are assisting the community and those who may be more susceptible to this illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “about half of infants younger than 1 year old who get pertussis are hospitalized, and 1 or 2 in 100 hospitalized infants die.”

For more information on pertussis, including prevention and vaccination, contact a Public Health Nurse at 454-6950.