Whooping Cough outbreak in Ada County, health care providers on alert

Posted at 5:07 PM, Nov 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-21 19:07:36-05

Within the last 90 days, 14 cases of Pertussis -- or Whooping Cough -- have been reported in Ada County, prompting the Central District Health Department (CDHD) to issue an alert. 

"Whooping cough is out there," said Sarah Correll, epidemiologist with CDHD. "It's having a little uptick, and we want to make sure that cases don't get missed."

To date, the number of whooping cough cases in Ada County is more than double compared to the same time last year. 

St. Luke's Pediatrician, Dr. Mark Uranga, says if you have a dry, lingering cough, get checked. 

"Almost all, both adults and kids affected by whooping cough, will have coughing fits," Uranga said. "The other part of whooping cough that's distinct, is that it won't typically be accompanied by a lot of congestion, and it will also typically have a nighttime cough."

Pertussis is spread from person-to-person, through coughing, sneezing, sharing food, even just sharing utensils.

"If a cough has lasted longer than two to three weeks, then it's probably best if they take some precautions at Thanksgiving," Uranga said. 

Medical experts say the best prevention is the pertussis vaccine for children, and boosters for adults who've already had the vaccine. 

"Every three to five years, whooping cough cases go up, and they go up dramatically," Correll said. "So, we're a little more concerned because the number has increased substantially, and we're not sure if that's going to continue."

Twenty-five percent of the whooping cough cases reported in Ada County are from folks older than 40. 

Infants, the elderly and expectant mothers are the most vulnerable groups for whooping cough.