Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Information

  • Whooping Cough Information

    The Washington state Department of Health has been reporting a dramatic increase in the number of cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Snohomish County. Whooping cough is a contagious respiratory infection that affects people of all ages, but it is most serious for infants. Symptoms appear 6 to 21 days (average 7-10 days) after exposure to an infected person. Pertussis usually begins with a cold symptoms or a dry cough followed by episodes of severe coughing. Gagging or vomiting may occur after severe coughing spells. Fever may be absent or mild.

    What should I do?

    Anyone who is exposed to the bacteria can get pertussis. Immunized children, adolescents and adults may get a milder case of the illness. Infants less than one year have the highest risk of severe disease. Unimmunized or partly immunized children are also at a higher risk of severe disease. Pregnant women with pertussis near the time of delivery my spread it to their newborns. Vaccine is considered safe in the last trimester of pregnancy so discussing this with your health care provider is recommended.

    Antibiotics active against pertussis given early in the course of the disease can help decrease transmission to others.

    It is recommended to consult your health care provider if you or someone in your family: has a persistent cough that lasts more than two weeks; has a cough that occurs in “spells” followed by gagging, vomiting or difficulty breathing; or is unsure if he or she is fully immunized.

    We recommend students stay home if they are not feeling well. If diagnosed with whooping cough, students can return to school either 21 days after the onset of the typical cough or until after five days of antibiotics treatment for the disease.

    For more specific pertussis information, contact your school nurse, your health care provider or visit http://www.snohd.org/Diseases-Risks/Whooping-Cough-Pertussis.