SRHD Investigating Possible Pertussis Exposure

SRHD Investigating Possible Pertussis Exposure

Mar 05, 2009

People Who Attended State Wrestling Tournament Potentially At Risk

The Health District is working with state health officials to investigate a pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak and potential exposures at the 2009 Mat Classic WIAA Wrestling State Championships held in the Tacoma Dome on February 20 & 21, 2009. The reported cases involve students associated with the 1B/2B tournament.  However, the championships for all classes (Boys' 1B/2B, 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A divisions and all Girls' divisions) were held during the 2-day Tacoma Dome event. Some symptomatic attendees who live in Spokane have been evaluated, but currently there are no confirmed cases in Spokane who have been linked to this event. 

The Health District is notifying area schools and physicians to be on the lookout for respiratory illness in those who attended the event. If the investigation identifies other who may have been at risk, the Health District will contact those people for a follow-up evaluation.

Overview of Pertussis:

  • Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by coughing. A person is at risk for exposure to pertussis if he/she has spent an hour or more within 6 feet of a contagious person.
  • Pertussis usually begins with cold-like symptoms and a cough that worsens over 1-2 weeks. Symptoms may include coughing fits followed by a "whooping" noise, vomiting, cyanosis (turning blue) or the inability to catch one's breath. The cough is often worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help eliminate the cough. Usually, persons infected with pertussis do not have a fever.
  • Adults and children may catch pertussis, even if they have had all or some of their immunizations (DtaP). In older children and adults the symptoms may be only a persistent cough which is worse at night. This illness is often very severe in small infants.

Spokane Regional Health District recommendations to parents and those attending the event:

  • If your child develops pertussis symptoms, have your child evaluated promptly by his/her doctor for pertussis infection. Symptoms may include coughing "fits" followed by a "whooping" noise, vomiting, cyanosis (turning blue) or the inability to catch one's breath. 
  • Children and school staff with pertussis must remain out of school until they are no longer contagious. This means they can return after 5 days of antibiotic treatment or 3 weeks after onset of symptoms.
  • Please make sure that you and your child are current on all pertussis vaccinations whether or not you or your child was exposed to those ill with pertussis. Pertussis vaccines are recommended for both children and adults.
  • If you are a woman in the third trimester of pregnancy and have been exposed to pertussis, please speak with your doctor about getting antibiotics for yourself even if you don't have symptoms; this will prevent exposing your newborn infant to the illness. It is recommended that children under age 1 receive a course of antibiotics if they have been exposed.

For more information, call your health care provider or call the Spokane Regional Health District at (509) 324-1442.

Additional Information:

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Web site:

Washington State Department of Health Web site: