Whooping cough (pertussis) continues to surface in Mesa County

A Mesa County child has been diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough. This confirmed case follows an outbreak of the illness during the 2017-18 school year when 46 cases were reported – the majority of those were in residents ages 10 to 18.

Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) officials urge residents to make sure they are up-to-date on their pertussis immunizations, as it’s our best defense against the highly contagious respiratory illness.

Whooping cough is spread when a person who is sick with the illness coughs or sneezes and another person breathes in those droplets left in the air. The illness is known for causing coughing fits, vomiting after coughing, exhaustion and, sometimes, a high pitched “whoop” sound during coughing. Whooping cough can be very dangerous for infants younger than a year old, as they are too young to be fully immunized against the illness.

“We found our school-age population greatly affected by whooping cough last year,” said MCPH Epidemiology Program Manager Heidi Dragoo. “The fact that we’re seeing a case of whooping cough in a child shortly after the start of the school year is significant. We’re encouraging families to check their records to ensure they’re up-to-date on immunizations so we can avoid another outbreak year.”

Residents, especially pregnant mothers and those spending time around infants, should make sure they are up-to-date on their pertussis immunizations.

  • Pregnant women should receive a Tdap dose during the third trimester of pregnancy.
  • Babies need DTaP doses at two, four and six months of age, and again between 15 and 18 months.
  • Children need another DTaP dose between the ages of four and six.
  • Children between seven and 10 years need a dose of Tdap if they’ve never been immunized.
  • Children between 11 and 12 years need Tdap, as well.
  • Adults need one dose of Tdap if they did not receive a dose during adolescence.

Families are also encouraged to stay home from work, school or child care when they are sick and to practice good hand washing to help prevent the spread of illness in our community.

MCPH offers DTaP and Tdap immunizations and accepts all major health insurance plans including Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan. We also have programs for those without insurance and serve all patients regardless of ability to pay.

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