Hundreds of North Idaho and Spokane residents may have been exposed to whooping cough, health officials warned Saturday.
Panhandle Health District officials said that an adult woman is suspected of having the disease and those who came in close contact with her should notify their doctors.
Those groups being warned are:
The Theater for Youth students in Coeur d’Alene.
The Theater for Youth students in Sandpoint.
The Theater for Youth students in Spokane.
Lakes Middle School Sixth Grade students in Coeur d’Alene.
The cast of “The Choice” at New Life Community Church in Rathdrum.
Contact with the person may have occurred beginning March 11, said Marie Rou, public health nursing supervisor for Panhandle Health.
In the past week, two children at Discovery Day Care, two children at Fernan Elementary School and one child in the sixth grade at Canfield Middle School in Coeur d’Alene have been diagnosed with pertussis, the medical name for whooping cough.
Five other people not associated with any schools also have become ill this week, Rou said.
They are being treated with antibiotics at home and seem to be doing fine, she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone exposed to pertussis be given preventive antibiotics, Rou said.
So far this year there have been 19 confirmed cases and 7 suspected cases of whooping cough in Kootenai County.
Whooping cough is transmitted through the air and is very contagious, Rou said. Pertussis is a bacterial infection of the respiratory system. It causes a cough, which can become spazmodic, pinching the airways and making it difficult to breath.
The symptoms of pertussis are: Runny nose, watery eyes, slight cough progressing to a more vigorous cough and a cough that causes gagging, vomiting or a whoop when trying to regain breath.
Children, especially under one year of age, are most severely affected by the disease and can be immunized against it through their sixth year. Whooping cough can be fatal in some severe cases.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: QUESTIONS? Contact the Panhandle Health District weekdays at (208) 667-3481.