ONTARIO — The Malheur County Health Department is cautioning county residents to be aware of recent cases of pertussis, or whooping cough in neighboring Idaho counties. These include Payette, Canyon, Owyhee, Adams and Gem counties. Parents are being reminded to make sure their children’s vaccines are current.
The bacteria that causes whooping cough spreads through the droplets of an infected person’s cough, according to Angie Gerrard. Public Health emergency preparedness coordinator. It starts with the appearance of a cold, with a cough that keeps getting worse and coming in fits and there is usually no fever, Gerrard said in a news release issued Monday.
Since Oct. 1, public health officials in southwest Idaho have investigated 22 cases of pertussis, she reported.
“Because of the proximity of Malheur County to the affected counties in Idaho and the fluidity of people crossing between the two areas, it’s important that Malheur County residents be alert to the possibility of infection and check to make sure their vaccinations are up to date.”
Those who are at risk when exposed to whooping cough, and should see a health-care provider, include pregnant women, babies under age 1, and check with providers at all age levels when exposed to the bacteria.
“Providers can often treat pertussis with antibiotics,’ the release reads. "Antibiotics may also help prevent it among pertussis-exposed people.”
To help prevent the spread of pertussis and many other diseases people should always cover their coughs, wash hands often thoroughly and stay home when sick.