BOISE, Feb. 1, 2024 – Central District Health advises that there have been 14 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) reported in Ada County since Jan. 1, 2024, compared to seven cases total for the 12 months in 2023 and two cases in 2022. No cases have been reported in Boise, Elmore or Valley counties so far this year.
CDH recommends community members to be cautious to reduce the spread of the disease. Wash your hands, cough into your arm and talk to your physician if you or your family experience a cough, runny nose, congestion or fever.
“Approximately every five years, rates of pertussis circulating in the community increase.” Said Victoria O’Dell, CDH staff epidemiologist. “2024 is the five-year mark since the last increase of whooping cough in our community, and we expect the rates of whooping cough to increase through 2024 compared to previous years. We want to keep everyone in our community safe by reminding families about the risks and the strategies of preventing whooping cough.”
Pertussis is also known as whooping cough due to the peculiar high-pitched “whoop” sounds made after the person inhales at the end of the coughing fit. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, congestion, or fever, but most people recognize it from the cough. People may develop rapid, violent and uncontrollable coughing fits and some may vomit after such fits due to the severity of the cough. The cough can last for months or return months after the illness first started. Pertussis is also more severe in babies and children and can cause difficulty breathing.
How does pertussis spread?
The illness is caused by a bacterium, Bordetella pertussis, which is spread from person to person through the air after someone who has the bacteria coughs or sneezes. If not diagnosed and treated with antibiotics, an individual can spread the disease for at least two weeks after their cough starts.
Individuals who have known exposure to pertussis can also take antibiotics before they get sick to help prevent the illness. If you believe you have pertussis or have been exposed to pertussis, please contact your healthcare provider to discuss testing and treatment.
Is pertussis preventable or treatable?
Pertussis is both preventable and treatable. There is a vaccine which may protect an individual from becoming ill or severely ill.
The CDC recommends two different kinds of vaccines: DTap and Tdap. The DTap vaccine is intended for individuals two months to seven years old and is a series of five vaccines. Tdap is intended for anyone seven years or older and is usually given every five to 10 years as a booster. Both vaccines protect against pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria.
Immunity begins to wane after about five years, and boosters can offer an individual more protection.
Pregnant individuals should also talk to their health care provider about getting vaccinated; vaccination during pregnancy can offer immunity for the baby until they are old enough to get vaccinated. If you have questions about your immunization needs, talk with your healthcare provider about your vaccination history to see if you may need a booster vaccination.
CDH offers the Tdap and pediatric DTap vaccines by appointment at our Boise office.
About Central District Health
CDH, Public Health District IV, is one of seven public health districts within the state of Idaho, serving the counties of Ada, Boise, Elmore, and Valley. With a vision of Healthy People in Healthy Communities, CDH’s emphasis is on decreasing risk factors for chronic disease, improving quality of life and increasing the years of healthy life among residents.