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Whooping cough outbreak reported at local school, 4 cases confirmed

The Wenatchee World - 2/14/2024

Feb. 14—EAST WENATCHEEThe Chelan-Douglas Health District has confirmed of a whooping cough outbreak circulating at a local school.

The Chelan-Douglas Health District in a news release Wednesday confirmed at least four cases with and is following up with "several other suspected cases."

The health district has not clarified where the outbreak is taking place.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a respiratory infection caused by the bacteria Bordella pertussis and spreads "very easily" through coughing and sneezing, according to the news release.

People vaccinated for whooping cough may have milder symptoms but can still contract and transmit pertussis.

Complications of pertussis include pneumonia, syncope (passing out), seizures, apnea (stopping breathing) and death with the most severe complications most common in infants. Half of infected infants require hospitalization, according to the news release.

Other symptoms that should prompt a healthcare visit include:

* Respiratory symptoms after exposure to pertussis.

* Contact with a person with pertussis.

* Any conditions which put the person at high risk, children under one-year-old or people who are pregnant.

* Exposure to pertussis and contact with high-risk individuals.

The health district recommends practicing good respiratory hygiene:

* Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

* Immediately throw away used tissues in the wastebasket.

* Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

* Talk to your healthcare provider if you have been exposed to pertussis.

* Anyone who is not up to date on their pertussis vaccination should seek care with their healthcare provider to update their immunization status.

* If you are experiencing respiratory illness symptoms, stay home for 24 hours and seek healthcare evaluation if symptoms do not improve.

Wearing medical grade surgical masks can prevent the spread of droplets and protect people from passing on pertussis and decrease the risk of contracting pertussis, according to the news release. But the most effective measure against pertussis is vaccination.

The health district is working with school officials, local healthcare providers and the state Department of Health to respond and monitor affected individuals and their families, according to the news release.

The state Department of Health reported 68 cases of pertussis statewide in 2023 with most cases in King and Clark counties.

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(c)2024 The Wenatchee World (Wenatchee, Wash.)

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