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Wednesday, October 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Health

Pertussis death prompts warning

Whooping cough epidemic kills infant in King County

The Spokane Regional Health District is reminding everyone to get a pertussis vaccine along with a flu shot after a King County infant died from whooping cough last week.

Health district spokeswoman Kim Papich said the death was the first in the state this year due to pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, which is still at an epidemic level.

So far, she said, Spokane County has seen 238 confirmed cases of whooping cough, but statewide there have been 4,658 cases.

The numbers here have slowed, Papich said, but an 80 percent vaccination rate is needed in order to curb the epidemic.

“Obviously we didn’t reach our 80 percent or we wouldn’t be experiencing the epidemic,” she said.

According to the health district, 81 percent of children under age 6 in Spokane County have received at least one shot in the series of infant pertussis vaccinations. But of children ages 7-18, only 30 percent have received the booster, recommended at age 11.

Five new pertussis cases were reported in the county last week. In King County, according to data from Public Health in Seattle, the number of cases of pertussis jumped to 752 so far this year, from 98 last year.

While pertussis is of most concern for people around infants, Papich said it is important for everyone to get a booster shot, regardless of whether they interact with children.

With flu season gearing up, the health district is encouraging people to get the pertussis shot along with a flu shot.

Four people have been hospitalized from influenza this flu season, which Papich said is below average.

“It’s pretty quiet, and that’s what we’re seeing across the state as well,” she said.

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