Rise in Local Pertussis Cases

Rise in Local Pertussis Cases
Posted on 04/26/2024
Child CoughingLane County Public Health (LCPH) has confirmed a new case of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) in a recent uptick in cases. This new case closely follows 12 recently reported cases and brings the total to 13 pertussis cases in April 2024. Several of the recent cases are not linked.

These recent cases indicate community spread of pertussis in Lane County. LCPH strongly recommends staying up to date with pertussis vaccinations. This is very important for infants, young children, those with underlying medical conditions and their close contacts. We want to protect these vulnerable groups who are more likely to develop severe whooping cough.

Pertussis vaccination can usually be obtained from a primary care provider such as a pediatrician, family physician, internal medicine physician, or nurse practitioner. Calling ahead to confirm pertussis vaccine availability is recommended. Those who do not have a primary care provider can contact a pharmacy or their health plan. For those without insurance, contacting a federally qualified health center may be a good option. 

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria. It can cause severe coughing fits (up to 10 weeks or more), followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound when breathing in. Vomiting and exhaustion may also follow. Pertussis can lead to serious complications, especially in infants, such as pneumonia, dehydration, seizures, and brain damage. Some infants may not cough at all. Instead, they may have apnea (life-threatening pauses in breathing) or struggle to breathe.

See a doctor as soon as possible if you or your child is experiencing symptoms such as runny nose, fever and coughing violently and rapidly.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or your child is:
  • Struggling to breathe
  • Turning blue or purple 
The best way to protect you and your loved ones is to stay up to date with recommended pertussis vaccines, DTaP and Tdap. It is recommended that infants and children complete a series of DTaP doses, while adolescents should receive one dose of Tdap, preferably at age 11 or 12. Women should get a Tdap dose during the third trimester of each pregnancy to help protect their babies early in life. Those regularly around young infants, such as family and household members, should especially ensure they are up to date with recommended pertussis vaccines.

With Lane County’s vaccination coverage rate declining since the pandemic, there is increased risk for continued disease spread in our community. Parents who are hesitant about vaccination are encouraged to discuss their concerns with their child’s healthcare provider.

If you are diagnosed with pertussis, take antibiotics as prescribed and avoid contact with others until you are no longer contagious. People can spread the bacteria from the start of the very first symptoms and for up to three weeks after coughing fits begin. Taking antibiotics early in the illness may shorten the amount of time someone is contagious. If you are interested in learning more about symptoms and treatment, access the CDC website.

LCPH recommends practicing good hygiene to prevent the spread of the bacteria that cause pertussis and other respiratory illnesses:
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow if you don’t have a tissue. Never cough into your hands as germs can be spread this way.
  • Throw away used tissues in a waste basket right away.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
For more information about pertussis (whooping cough), please visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/pertussis/index.html.

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