San Juan County Health and Community Services issues pertussis health alert

Three San Juan Island children have been diagnosed with Pertussis, or “whooping cough.” San Juan County Health & Community Services is currently working with the families of these children to investigate the pertussis cases. None of the children have been hospitalized.

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection, and is one of the most common vaccine preventable diseases in the United States. It usually starts with mild cold symptoms or a cough, which turns into severe coughing spells. Infants and children can cough violently and rapidly, which can cause them to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. If untreated, an infected person can spread pertussis for several weeks.

Because pertussis is highly contagious, pertussis outbreaks can occur even in vaccinated populations, though the symptoms tend to be less severe. Even fully vaccinated people can become infected with or spread pertussis.

If you or your child have symptoms of pertussis, please stay home and away from other people and public settings until you or your child has been evaluated by your health care provider. The best way to protect against pertussis is to receive a vaccine according to current vaccination guidelines. The effectiveness of the vaccine fades over time, requiring periodic “booster” vaccinations to be as fully protected as possible.

Now is a good time for individuals and family members to review vaccination records and ensure immunizations are up to date. If vaccinations are not up to date, or you have questions about vaccinations or pertussis, please contact your health care provider, or San Juan County Health & Community Services at 378-4474.