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Home » Archives » November 2011 » Whooping Cough Spreading

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11/09/2011: "Whooping Cough Spreading"

San Juan County Health officials report the Whooping Cough (Pertussis) outbreak is continuing. Immediate vaccination is highly recommended for children and adults.

Residents should contact their health care provider or the San Juan County Health and Community Services Department to arrange for the vaccination.

To date there have been 27 probable and confirmed cases among County residents and health officials urge all residents to take precautions to prevent the disease from spreading further.

Despite its reputation as a childhood disease, Pertussis infects people of all ages. In 2005, two-thirds of all diagnosed Pertussis cases were among adolescents and adults. Studies have shown that teens and adults tend to have the disease in its milder form and rarely “whoop” after a coughing spell; however adults can go on to develop pneumonia, broken ribs, and fainting from the severe coughing spells. Even people with mild symptoms can infect others.

Pertussis is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella Pertussis, found in the mouth, nose and throat. It is spread through droplets from the mouth and nose when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Classic Pertussis usually starts with cold symptoms (runny nose, sneezing, mild fever and cough). After about two weeks, the coughing becomes more and more severe. This stage can last for weeks and even months. It's aptly nicknamed the 100-day cough.

Common signs of a whooping cough (Pertussis) episode include:

Severe coughing spells, sometimes followed by what sounds like a "whoop" as the patient gasps for breath (adults and adolescents rarely whoop)
A cough that brings up a mucus so thick that infants and children can turn blue from lack of oxygen

Patients may have 15-24 coughing attacks a day. After an episode, the patient often vomits and feels very tired. Attacks at night lead to sleep deprivation.
Between episodes, there may be no signs of illness.

The most effective way to prevent Pertussis (whooping cough) among infants, children, teens, and adults is to get vaccinated. It is also important to keep infants and other people at high risk for Pertussis complications away from infected people. With the holidays coming, County public health officials say it is important not to postpone vaccinations. The close contact between several family generations indoors during the holidays increases the risk of transmission of whooping cough.

Pertussis fact sheets and information available at the following website:

Listen to the distinctive whooping cough on you tube:

Questions? Call the San Juan County Health & Community Services at 378-4474.

Tom Bauschke
John Evans
Mary Kalbert
Ron Keeshan
Gordy Petersen
Janice Peterson
Bruce Sallan
Terra Tamai
Amy Wynn
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