Idaho has a higher percentage of unvaccinated preschoolers than any state except Michigan, federal researchers announced Friday.
That could explain why Idaho has the highest per-capita rate of pertussis, or whooping cough, in the nation.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were releasing their findings in Atlanta on Friday, the Post Falls school district confirmed that a kindergarten student has contracted whooping cough.
Parents of students who may have come in contact with the Post Falls child have been notified. The highly contagious disease is caused by a bacteria. It is spread through coughing and sneezing.
There also are two cases of the disease in Sandpoint and in Coeur d’Alene, according to Marie Rau of the Panhandle Health District.
Health officials urged parents to make sure their children were immunized against pertussis, either by their doctors or at the health district office.
Pertussis causes severe spells of coughing, often followed by vomiting and/or a whooping sound as the person inhales.
The disease mostly affects children under age 5, and is most serious in infants. Complications can include pneumonia, convulsions, swelling of the brain and death.
In Idaho, only 66 percent of children ages 19-35 months are getting all their basic recommended vaccinations, CDC officials said. The rest are missing one or more doses.
Only Michigan, at 63 percent, has a lower immunization rate. Vermont had the highest percentage of children with the basics at 86 percent.
“We need to try to do everything we can to increase it,” said Dr. Jesse Greenblatt, Idaho state epidemiologist.
Idaho reported a total of 182 whooping cough cases in 1994. That translates into almost 16 cases for every 100,000 Idahoans, the highest rate in the nation.
Nationwide, a record 75 percent of preschoolers are getting recommended vaccinations, leaving 1 million who still need one or more doses.
A survey measured the percentage of children who have received four vaccinations against diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, three doses of polio vaccine and one immunization against measles-mumps-rubella.
By the year 2000, the CDC wants 90 percent of all children to have those basics plus three doses of Haemophilus influenza type b - or Hib - vaccine, and three doses of hepatitis B vaccine.
, DataTimes MEMO: Changed in the Spokane edition.