Health Advisory: Pertussis/Whooping Cough

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FROM: Cowlitz County Health Department

We are writing to let you know you that pertussis (whooping cough) is circulating in our communities. Below is general information about pertussis and steps to take to prevent illness. It is recommended that any students and staff members who are currently experiencing extended cold-like symptoms and/or cough to stay out of school or work until they are feeling better and consider seeing see their healthcare provider for testing and possible treatment.

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by coughing. Pertussis usually begins with cold-like symptoms and a cough that worsens over 1-2 weeks. Symptoms may include coughing “fits” followed by a “whooping” noise, vomiting, cyanosis (turning blue) or the inability to catch one’s breath. The cough is often worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help eliminate the cough. Usually, persons infected with pertussis do not have a fever. In older children and adults the symptoms may be only a persistent cough which is worse at night. This illness can be very serious in infants. Vaccination against pertussis is still one of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of getting this disease.

Cowlitz County Health Department Recommendations:

  1. If you or your child were exposed and you have an infant less than 1 year of age in your household we strongly recommend that you contact your health care provider for preventive treatment against pertussis and to receive vaccination. Pertussis vaccines are recommended for both children and adults.

  2. If you are a woman in the third trimester of pregnancy and were exposed please speak with your health care provider about getting antibiotics for yourself even if you don’t have symptoms; this will prevent exposing your newborn infant to the illness. It is also recommended that pregnant women receive a pertussis booster with every pregnancy.

  3. If you or your child have had a cough for the last 2 weeks or develop a coughing illness in the next 2 to 3 weeks, please be evaluated promptly by your health care provider for pertussis infection.

  4. If you see your health care provider for any of the reasons listed above please show this letter to him/her at your visit.

If you have questions please call your healthcare provider or the Cowlitz County Health Department Communicable Disease Unit at (360) 414-5599.

Click here to download a PDF of this letter which was sent home with students on Thursday, October 22. 

Pertussis Letter Home to Parents