Whooping cough rears its head in Central Oregon


Last updated 5/7/2024 at 9:42am

In the past two weeks, Deschutes County Public Health has identified seven cases of pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough in the community. All cases have been investigated by Public Health Communicable Disease staff and close contacts have been notified. In 2023, a total of six cases of pertussis were reported in Deschutes County.

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is transmitted from person to person through droplets from a cough or sneeze. Newborn babies, who are too young to be vaccinated, are at highest risk for severe illness.

The best defense against whooping cough is a well-immunized community, health officials state. Pertussis vaccines (DTaP and TDaP) are recommended for all people that are ages two months and older. While everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated against this disease, it is especially important that pregnant persons get vaccinated during each pregnancy to best protect their newborn. It is also critical that everyone who comes in contact with babies is fully immunized.

“Getting vaccinated does not only protect you, it also protects your loved ones and close contacts, some of whom are more susceptible to complications from pertussis,” said Dr. Rita Bacho, Program Manager for Communicable Disease Prevention and Management.

Whooping cough (pertussis) symptoms

Whooping cough begins as a mild upper respiratory infection and resembles a common cold (sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever, mild cough). Within two weeks, the cough becomes more severe and is characterized by episodes of numerous rapid coughs, followed by a high-pitched whooping sound and is sometimes followed by vomiting. These episodes may reoccur for one to two months. Because infants and toddlers are at greatest risk of complications from whooping cough, they’re more likely to need treatment in a hospital. Complications can be life-threatening for infants younger than six months old.

Pertussis vaccines (DTaP and TDaP) can be provided by local health care providers, as well as most pharmacies for people seven-years-old and older. People are encouraged to call their primary care provider or local pharmacy for vaccine availability.

As a Vaccine Access Program provider, Deschutes County Health Services also offers Safety Net Immunizations to individuals and families who have difficulty accessing immunization services. Immunization clinics are available to individuals from newborn to adult (children under 14 years must be accompanied by an adult or guardian).

Immunization services are available for all ages at our Redmond and Bend campuses as follows:

• Redmond Campus, 236 NW Kingwood Ave.

Wednesdays by appointment, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• Bend Campus, 2577 NE Courtney Dr.

Thursdays by appointment, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

To make an appointment, call Deschutes County Health Services at 541-322-7499. Bring a current shot record and health insurance information (if applicable). County Health Services staff will not deny service due to the inability to pay.

For more information about whooping cough, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/.


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