Protect Those Who Can’t Protect Themselves - Whooping Cough Epidemic
SPOKANE, Wash. – May 8, 2012 – Vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others—including babies—while Washington state’s ongoing whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic continues.
Pertussis levels became epidemic statewide early last month. Through April 28, 1,132 cases of whooping cough were reported in the state, compared to 965 cases reported for all of 2011. To date, most cases have been reported in western Washington, but pertussis activity recently increased in the Spokane area. Confirmed cases locally total 15, compared to just one case during the same three-month period last year. With the ongoing epidemic, the risk of getting infected will remain for several more months.
The disease affects people of all ages, but is most serious in infants, who have substantially higher rates of pertussis-related serious illness and death. The majority of pertussis cases, hospitalizations and deaths occur in infants less than two months old, who are too young to be vaccinated. Most infants get the disease from their parents or other family members. That is why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and numerous other organizations stress a single Tdap vaccination for adults aged 19 and over, who have not previously received a vaccine that contains the whooping cough component.
Vaccines are available at many local pharmacies and through health care providers. Low-cost vaccine, part of Governor Gregoire’s recent federal fund designation to purchase 27,000 doses of pertussis vaccine statewide for adults who are uninsured or underinsured, is available through the.SRHD Public Health Clinic, (509) 324-1600.
Pertussis begins like a cold (sore throat, runny nose, low-grade fever and mild cough). Within two weeks it can make a person cough so hard that they vomit or have a “whoop” when trying to catch their breath after coughing. If an adult or child has a cough illness lasting more than two weeks, or where the cough is getting worse after a week, they should see their health care provider as antibiotics can help ease symptoms and help reduce the patient’s ability to spread the disease to others.
For more information, contact the SRHD Public Health Clinic, (509) 324-1600. For media inquiries, contact Kim Papich, SRHD public information officer, (509) 324-1539. More information can be found at www.srhd.org. SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.