The Chelan-Douglas Health District (CDHD) is reporting cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, have more than tripled in a short time.

The district is reporting 58 cases as of March 22, a sharp increase from 17 cases two weeks earlier.

The health district confirmed its first case of this outbreak on February 14 at a local school.

CDHD is asking people who plan to travel during the upcoming spring break to take precautions, such as wearing a mask for anyone who develops a cough.

Severe complications from whooping cough are most common in infants, with half of infected infants requiring hospitalization.

Infection during pregnancy can affect the fetus and result in newborn complications.

The most serious complications from whooping cough include Complications of pertussis include pneumonia, syncope (passing out), seizures, apnea (stopping breathing), and death.

According to CDHD, whooping cough is a well-known and serious respiratory illness that spreads very easily by coughing and sneezing.

Some kids also may have a high-pitched “whoop” after they cough, which is how the disease got its common name.

CDHD says people who have been vaccinated for Whooping Cough may have milder symptoms, but can still get and transmit pertussis.

Wearing medical-grade surgical masks can prevent the spread of droplets, protect individuals from passing on Whooping Cough, and decrease the risk of contracting it.  The most effective measure against the illness is vaccination.

For people traveling during spring break, Chelan-Douglas Health District recommends everyone take the following precautions to lower the chance of getting themselves or others sick:

  • If you are sick, especially with a fever, stay home for 24 hours and seek healthcare evaluation if symptoms do not improve.
  • Avoid visiting vulnerable individuals if you are experiencing any respiratory illness symptoms.
  • If you are coughing, wear a mask when visiting a healthcare facility/provider to reduce the spread of infection.
  • If you have had known exposure to respiratory illnesses such as COVID, pertussis, or the flu, wear a mask and monitor your symptoms.

The health agency says individuals with the following symptoms or exposure should contact their healthcare provider:

  1. Any respiratory illness with a cough: greater than 2 weeks duration, or that is paroxysmal, or includes an inspiratory whoop/gasping, or has post-tussive gagging/emesis, or is worse at night
  2. Any respiratory symptoms that develop after known contact with a person with pertussis
  3. Known household or other close contact with a person with pertussis
  4. Exposure to pertussis and the high-risk conditions of age <1 year or pregnancy
  5. Exposure to pertussis and contact with family members or others with high-risk conditions of age <1 year or pregnancy

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