Print Version

Home   News   Sports   Social   Obituaries   Events   Letters
Looking Back     Health Jewels    Stitch in Time

Whooping cough on the rise in North Idaho

October 2, 2013
Whooping cough (pertussis) continues to infect people throughout the five northern counties, pushing the annual average number of cases from six to 54 since 2009.

Northern Idaho’s number of whooping cough cases began climbing in 2010. In 2009, six cases were reported in the five northern counties. In 2010, that number climbed to 74, then 100 in 2011. Last year, the number fell to 37. Thirty-six cases already have been reported this year and three months are left. In 2011, 31 cases had been reported by the end of September, but the year ended with 100.

The pertussis vaccine helps protect people from the highly contagious illness. Untreated, whooping cough can develop into pneumonia, seizures and encephalitis. It’s particularly dangerous for children younger than a year old.

“People who have severe coughing spells that don’t improve or go away within two weeks should consider that they may have pertussis and seek medical attention” said Mary Petty, Community Services program manager for the Panhandle Health District (PHD).

PHD provides both the DTaP immunization for children younger than 6 and the Tdap pertussis booster for anyone age 11 and older. Children start the DTaP series when they’re 2 months old and complete the series by age 6.

Protection from the vaccine wears off over time. A booster shot, Tdap, provides protection for adolescents and adults. Only one dose is needed. In Idaho, children entering seventh grade are required to have the Tdap booster. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the Tdap booster for all adults and particularly for those in contact with infants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that pregnant women have a Tdap with each pregnancy, ideally between 27 and 36 weeks.

Pertussis typically starts with a runny nose, but a cough quickly takes over. People spread pertussis by coughing and sneezing while they’re in close contact with others who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria.

People with pertussis are contagious before the cough starts and stay contagious for up to three weeks. Doctor-prescribed antibiotics can kill the infection and prevent it from spreading.

For an immunization appointment at PHD, call:

· Benewah County – 208-245-4556
· Bonner County – 208-263-5159
· Boundary County – 208-267-5558
· Kootenai County – 208-415-5270
· Shoshone County – 208-786-7474
 Questions or comments about this article? Click here to e-mail!