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Two children contract whooping cough in Ellensburg

November 11, 2016 GMT

Two students in Ellensburg have contracted whooping cough, according to the Kittitas County Public Health Department.

One of the students attends the Ellensburg High School and the other the Ellensburg Developmental Preschool. At least two other cases are linked to these two original cases, but no other schools are involved this time.

The best ways to stop the spread of whooping cough are getting vaccinated, staying home when you’re sick, covering your cough or sneeze and frequent hand washing. People should get vaccinated for whooping cough as soon as possible. The vaccine is available at any health care provider and at the public health department. Vaccination reduces the chances of getting whooping cough but does not entirely eliminate the risk.

Whooping cough symptoms start with a runny nose and an occasional cough. After a few days, the cough becomes more severe. Spasms of coughing may end with a gasp or a “whoop,” and/or vomiting. Coughing spasms may continue for several weeks before resolving, even with treatment.

If people suspect they have whooping cough they should call a health care provider right away. Antibiotics may shorten the course of the illness if given early enough. After a five-day course of antibiotics, a person with whooping cough is no longer considered contagious. People with whooping cough should stay home and avoid spreading the disease during the five days of antibiotic treatment. Without antibiotics, people with whooping cough are considered contagious for at least three weeks.

Most people who get whooping cough get it through close contact. Close contact involves direct, face-to-face contact or close proximity for a prolonged period and may include household members, close friend and contacts in class or after-school settings. Close contact does not include walking by a person or briefly sitting across a room. According to the Washington state Department of Health, whooping cough can live on a surface or object for several days, but this is not a common way to contract the bacteria.

The health department advises all children and adults to be up-to-date on their vaccinations (DTaP for children, Tdap for adolescents or adults). Currently, one dose of Tdap is recommended for all adults and adolescents ages 11 and up. It is also recommended that pregnant women receive a vaccination during each pregnancy, preferably between weeks 27 and 36. For complete vaccination schedules for infants and children, preteens and teens and adults, see www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/.