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Pertussis cases increase locally

Health officials recommend vaccine for young children and booster for adolescents and adults

Feb 28, 2014

(Yamhill County Health and Human Services)  There have been an increased number of pertussis (whooping cough) cases throughout the county. Contacts of cases have been notified. County and state public health officials recommend that individuals age 2 months to 6 years receive regular DTaP vaccinations, and that everyone age 11 and older get one routine Tdap booster to protect themselves and those around them from whooping cough. Vaccination is the best way to prevent pertussis (whopping cough).

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria. “Pertussis is particularly dangerous -- even fatal -- for infants who are too young to be immunized,” says Dr. Koenig, health officer for Yamhill County.

Koenig says pertussis begins with a runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and mild cough. The cough gradually becomes more severe, and after a week or two, the second stage of the illness begins, which is characterized by coughing spasms ending with a gasp or whoop as the patient tries to get air. Sometimes the burst of coughing results in vomiting. This stage of the illness may persist for up to 10 weeks.

Before the pertussis vaccine became available in the 1940s, pertussis was a common childhood disease with more than 200,000 cases a year in the United States. Since widespread vaccination, pertussis has decreased more than 80 percent.

Pertussis is a required immunization in Oregon schools, but the disease is making a comeback: In 2012 there were over 1700 cases of pertussis which is the largest number in a single year since 1958. It is three times the number of cases in 2011.

“Pertussis immunity from vaccination may wane over time, so it’s important that new mothers and fathers get another pertussis vaccination to protect their baby from whooping cough,” says Koenig, “It is also important for health care providers to make sure they are up-to-date on their pertussis immunizations.”

To prevent the spread of pertussis the following is recommended:
 Get vaccinated
 If you have symptoms see your medical provider to get treated
 Cover your cough

For more information on pertussis, visit To obtain a pertussis
vaccination, call your health care provider, local health department (503-434-7525) or SAFENET (1-

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