Pertussis cases level off

OKANOGAN – Nearly three dozen people have been diagnosed with whooping cough in Okanogan County this winter.

Okanogan County Health District officials said 35 people have pertussis, also known as whooping cough. As of Christmas, 19 had been diagnosed with the contagious disease.

District officials urge families to make sure everyone in the home is up to date on whooping cough vaccine to help prevent the serious illness. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent whooping cough, they said.

While some vaccinated people may still catch it, their illness is usually much milder than in an unvaccinated person.

Whooping cough spreads very easily from person to person. Because it usually starts off like a cold, people who have whooping cough may not know they’re spreading it. And it can be deadly, especially for infants.

Anyone with a persistent cough, especially if it includes fits of coughing or causes vomiting, should seek medical care. Anyone with a cough should avoid being around infants.

Babies who get whooping cough can have dangerous complications, including pneumonia, convulsions (uncontrolled shaking) and brain damage. That’s why it’s especially important for pregnant women to get a Tdap shot, and for people who spend time with babies to be up to date on their whooping cough vaccine, too, health officials said.

Health care providers can counsel people about what vaccines they may need.

More information is available online from the state Department of Health or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Information in Spanish is also available.

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