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Whooping cough on the rise

by STAFF REPORT
Staff Report | April 24, 2024 2:40 PM

COEUR d'ALENE — The Panhandle Health District on Wednesday reported an increase in confirmed cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, among Kootenai County residents. 

From 2021 through 2023, the district reported nine cases of pertussis throughout North Idaho. So far in 2024, it has already reported 19 confirmed cases.

The majority of the cases are among ages 18 and younger.

"Whooping cough is a very contagious illness and spreads easily from person to person,” said PHD Epidemiologist Rebecca Betz in a press release. “People are typically contagious from the very first symptoms and can continue to remain contagious for up to 21 days without antibiotic intervention. Some people’s symptoms will be mild, making it hard to recognize they have whooping cough.”

Early symptoms of whooping cough can last for one to two weeks and usually include a running nose, fever and cough. It can also include life-threatening pauses in breathing in babies and young children, the release said.

One to two weeks after the first symptoms start, people with whooping cough may develop violent, and uncontrolled, coughing fits.

Pertussis can cause serious illness in people of all ages but is most dangerous for babies. About one in eight infants with pertussis get pneumonia. About one in 100 infected infants will have convulsions. 

“Being vaccinated against pertussis is your best defense to avoid experiencing a severe case of the illness and can help limit the spread of the illness among your loved ones,” Betz said.