In Riverside County, nearly three dozen cases of whoopping cough are reported until now this year. So, public health official warned today there was cause for concern, but not “panic.” Only six cases of whoopping cough were reported last year in the five northern counties. 35 whoopping cough cases have been recorded since Jan. 1 in comparison to 17 cases during the same period in 2009, according to the county Department of Public Health. Whoopping cough is also known as pertussis.
15 cases of whoopping cough have been confirmed in Panhandle since mid-December in Kootenai County and so the Panhandle Health District is warning. This year, five infants, all under 3 months old, have died of whooping cough and hundreds of other nonfatal cases have been reported in California. Due to this, the state Department of Public Health has declared whoopping cough as an epidemic of the highly contagious disease for the first time since 1958.
County communicable diseases specialist Barbara Cole said, “This is not a reason to panic, but it is a reason for increased awareness by our medical community and the public. People need to take the appropriate steps to protect themselves.”
In California, 910 cases of whooping cough had recorded as of June 15, four times the number at this time last year, when only 219 cases were reported during the same period. An additional 600 suspected cases of whooping cough are being investigated by local health departments.
“If the cough is getting worse and lasting longer than two weeks, they should contact a doctor,” said the district’s Randi Lustig.
Whooping Cough is respiratory tract infection which is caused by bacteria that is spread during uncontrollable coughing spells. Pertussis is easily diagnosed by severe coughing spells that can cause vomiting and lack of breath. If it is not treated, it can lead to pneumonia, seizures, encephalitis, and in babies less than 1 year old and death may also occur. Early signs of whooping cough are similar to a cold but it lasts as long as six weeks, with the cough developing into a “whooping” sound that gives the disease its name.
Generally, it starts with a runny nose, with a cough quickly taking over. For up to three weeks, people are contagious. Doctor-prescribed antibiotics can help to kill the infection. Children who have disease require staying at home until they have completed five days of antibiotics. The health district offers a whooping cough booster vaccination for anyone 11 or older.
Symptoms of Whooping Cough:
Common symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a cold or flu during first stage.
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Dry cough that may get worse at night
- Slight fever
Whooping cough symptoms stick around unlike a cold and the symptoms get worse with in two weeks.
- Severe coughing spells that may end in a “whooping” sound when the infected person inhales
- Fits of coughing that seem to go on and on
- Severe coughing that leads to vomiting, which may make it difficult for a person to eat or drink
- Skin turning blue during coughing episodes.
Whooping cough attacks occur more recurrently at night, with an average of 15 attacks during a 24-hour period. During this stage, symptoms generally last for 1 to 6 weeks but can last for up to 10 weeks.
In this stage, symptoms may steadily improve, frequently disappearing within 2 to 3 weeks. But, fits of coughing often come back with other respiratory infections for many months after the whooping cough symptoms improve.