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Monday, October 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Whooping Cough Cases Approaching 200 Number In Spokane County Up To 16; Most Are Children Who Were Vaccinated

Susan Drumheller Adam Lynn Contribute Staff writer

Health officials again are urging sick people to stay home after the count of pertussis victims climbed to 167 in North Idaho.

In Spokane County, 16 people have been identified as part of the current outbreak.

“People on antibiotics need to stay out of the public for at least five days,” said Jeanne Bock of the Panhandle Health District. “We used to put quarantines on them. We can’t do that anymore. …

“The problem is, the adults and teenagers don’t get that sick. They don’t mean to spread the infection, but they are.”

Some of the latest cases include babies and toddlers, Bock said.

“These 1-year-olds and 4-month-olds, this is real dangerous to them,” she said.

The investigation team worked throughout the weekend calling people who had contact with pertussis victims. Health district nurses took Sunday off from testing people for pertussis.

For now, they see no end in sight.

Many of the new cases were from bacterial cultures that were 7 days old. Those initial tests came back negative.

“They did about 200 tests on Saturday,” Bock said Monday. “Today, at one point, they had 60 in line. I don’t think we can hope for the numbers to start going down yet.”

The nurses also had some relief Monday when six nurses arrived from the health district in Boise to help give immunizations and administer tests.

In Spokane, epidemiologist Dr. Paul Stepak was getting a good dose of crisis management himself.

Since Thursday, the regional health district reported 13 new cases, bringing the total for the outbreak to 16.

Doctors have traced some of the cases to the Idaho epidemic, but others seemed to have cropped up independently, he added.

“They’re popping up in a variety of places,” said Stepak, of the Spokane Regional Health District.

Most of the cases are in children who were vaccinated against the disease but caught it anyway, Stepak said.

There are confirmed cases among students at three Spokane Valley schools: Centennial Middle, Progress Elementary and Evergreen Junior High.

Testing in North Idaho continues from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and Wednesday at 1111 Ironwood Drive. People who have symptoms - runny nose, scratchy or sore throat, watery eyes - and have had contact with a known pertussis case should be tested.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Susan Drumheller Staff writer Staff writer Adam Lynn contributed to this report.

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