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Pertussis (“Whooping Cough”) in Lake County

Lake County, Calif. (July 20, 2017) – Pertussis (“Whooping Cough”) in Lake County – Health Officials requesting evaluation of possible cases

A case of pertussis diagnosed in a child earlier this month has led to an expanding public health investigation that has identified at least 8 additional suspected cases and more than fifty contacts that may be at risk for infection.  

Lake County Public Health wishes to make the community aware of this apparent outbreak so that steps can be taken to prevent or quickly diagnose and treat additional cases.
Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can be spread by coughing.   The disease is generally preventable through vaccination.   Infants too young for vaccination are at greatest risk for life-threatening disease.    
 
Despite efforts to prevent pertussis through vaccination, there are still epidemics every 3-5 years, often involving unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children.  The last epidemic declared in California was in 2014.  In 2010, more than 9,000 cases occurred in California, including 10 infant deaths.  
 
The illness begins with cold-like symptoms that can last for 1-2 weeks and includes mild fever and cough.  Later, more severe fits of coughing develop that can lead to vomiting and exhaustion.   In some, particularly children, a high-pitched “whoop” may follow a bout of coughing.   Partially or previously vaccinated people may experience milder forms of the illness.
    
Lake County Public Health recommends the following actions:

•    Review immunization status regardless of age.  Young children need five doses of DtaP by kindergarten.   A “booster” shot with Tdap should be given at age 11-12.   All adults should receive a Tdap booster, especially if they are in contact with infants or are health care workers.   Pregnant women should be vaccinated with Tdap during each pregnancy, preferably between 27-36 weeks of pregnancy.  
•    Regardless of vaccination history, see a healthcare provider for evaluation of persistent or severe cough.  When you make your appointment, tell them about your cough so that you do not wait in the same room as other patients.  Ask about getting a test for pertussis.
•    Stay home when sick.   Especially stay away from young infants and pregnant women if you are sick, even with mild cold symptoms.  
For questions or information about Tdap vaccination, contact your health care provider or Lake County Public Health at 707-263-1090 or 800-794-9291.

For more information about pertussis, visit https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/index.html.