Statewide whooping cough epidemic slows, but lingers

November 17, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 17, 2012

The number of whooping cough cases reported in Washington is easing — with some areas returning to levels more typical before the epidemic — but state health officials said whooping cough is still active.

The epidemic included more than 4,500 reported whooping cough, or pertussis, cases — the highest number of cases in more than 70 years.

“We’re watching whooping cough activity closely,” state Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a statement. “We’re encouraged to see the pace of new cases in our state slowing, but we are not completely out of the woods. Whooping cough is still active and babies are still at risk.”

Pertussis is highly contagious and spreads easily from person to person through coughing and sneezing. The disease is most serious for infants, especially children too young to receive the vaccination. Pertussis causes cold-like systems followed by a long, severe cough.

Officials urge vaccinations and other prevention measures to stop the spread of pertussis. The vaccine against the disease is called Tdap.

State health officials encouraged adults to get vaccinated, especially adults that come into contact with babies.

“With family and friends gathering for the holidays, disease can spread easily. It’s important for adults and teens to be current on their whooping cough vaccines to protect babies from this serious illness,” Selecky said. “And of course, remember to wash your hands often, cover your cough and stay home when you’re sick.”

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