A case of whooping cough was confirmed Monday in an adult who works at local child care center, according to the Kittitas County Public Health Department.
The public health department opened an investigation in hopes of preventing whooping cough — also known as pertussis — from spreading, according to a news release issued Tuesday morning.
The department's staff is working with the child care center to notify the parents of children who may have been exposed to the disease, and children who are not up to date on pertussis vaccinations have been ordered not to go to the center for at least 21 days. The health department did not release the name of the center.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious airborne disease. It is usually most severe in children under one-year-old and can be fatal in young children. Two Washington infants died of whooping cough in 2011, and 4,424 cases have been confirmed in the state in 2012. Twenty-eight of those cases occurred in Kittitas County where the disease reached epidemic levels earlier this year.
Pertussis usually begins with cold-like symptoms, including sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever, and mild cough, according to the health department press release. These symptoms can progress into persistent coughing, sometimes severe with explosive bursts that may end in vomiting or gagging. In young children, the cough may be followed by a high pitched “whoop” when inhaling. Between bursts of coughing, patients may appear well.
Whooping cough symptoms may appear milder in adolescents and adults, who might only experience cold-like symptoms, like according to the health department. In some adolescents and adults, the only symptom may be a persistent cough, often worse at night. Patients may also appear well between bursts of coughing. The health department urges anybody with these symptoms to contact their health care provider.
The health department also recommends all children and adults stay up-to-date on their vaccinations. Whooping cough vaccinations are not 100 percent effective, but are the most effective way to prevent the disease. In addition, the disease is less severe in individuals who are vaccinated.
Vaccinations are available at local health care providers, the Kittitas County Public Health Department and many local pharmacies. Some individuals may qualify for a free pertussis vaccination.
For more information visit www.co.kittitas.wa.us/health or call 962-7515.