Two cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, have emerged in the Walla Walla area, according to the Walla Walla County Public Health Department.
"This year California is experiencing the largest incidence of pertussis in the last 50 years; over 1,000 cases and six deaths in infants so far in 2010," noted Harvey Crowder, administrator. He is calling on local physicians to help minimize the impact of the disease here, by considering the possibility of Pertussis in patients with a cough lasting more than 13 days.
The disease is also marked with a notable "whoop" and may be accompanied with violent fits of coughing with vomiting afterward.
Pertussis is highly contagious and can happen at any age. Severe illness is more common in young children who have not been immunized. Older children, adolescents or adults who have been immunized often have milder symptoms, according to the Washington state Department of Health.
Young infants are at highest risk for complications, which can include pneumonia, ear infection, loss of appetite, brain disorders and death. Adolescents and adults may also experience complications such as pneumonia, trouble sleeping, urine leakage and broken ribs.
Pertussis begins as a mild upper respiratory infection. Initially, symptoms resemble those of a common cold, including sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever and a mild cough. Within two weeks, the cough becomes more severe and is characterized by episodes of many rapid coughs followed by a "crowing" or high-pitched whoop. Thick, clear mucus may be discharged. These episodes may recur for one to two months, and are more frequent at night.
For more information call your health care provider or the Walla Walla County Public Health Department at 524-2650.