November 1, 2011 in Idaho

Whooping cough confirmed in Kootenai County children

By The Spokesman-Review

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, has been confirmed in nine Kootenai County children, ranging in age from 3 months to 15 years old, a news release from Panhandle Health District said.

None of the children has been hospitalized.

“Most of the sick children have not been immunized,” said Dave Hylsky, epidemiologist for the health district, noting that pertussis is highly contagious in group settings.

The pertussis vaccine is 60 to 80 percent effective, said Cynthia Taggart, a spokesperson for the health district. However, the release said, the vaccine has been shown to prevent more serious symptoms. Pertussis is particularly dangerous for children under age 1.

Pertussis starts with a runny nose and watery eyes but the cough takes over in a week or two. Anyone with symptoms should contact a doctor, the release said. The disease is spread through coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others.

People remain contagious for up to three weeks after the cough starts. Prescribed antibiotics can kill the infection and prevent spreading. Children diagnosed with pertussis need to stay home from school or child care until they have completed the antibiotic treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that entire families take the antibiotics if any member of the family

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