BOULDER, Colo. -
The spread of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in Boulder County is being called an "epidemic" by public health officials.
Boulder County Public Health said 114 cases of the disease had been confirmed as of Sept. 23. Eleven of those cases were children under the age of 5 and one infant was hospitalized in an intensive care ward.
About half of all infants who get whooping cough will require hospitalization and up to two percent of stricken infants will die from the disease, Boulder County Public Health said.
“This is a 10-fold increase in the number of cases from the same time last year,” said Sophia Yager, Boulder County Public Health Immunization Program coordinator.
Whooping cough is included in the DTaP vaccination, which stands for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Boulder County Public Health officials recommend that parents should make sure children are current on their immunizations. Additionally, adults should consider a booster dose, especially if they are around young children often.
“Most people with insurance should be able to receive the vaccination at no cost at all,” said Dr. Bernadette Albanese, Boulder County Public Health’s medical director.
Residents without insurance can get the vaccination at a reduced cost at the Boulder County Public Health immunization clinic.
Pertussis is spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs and someone else inhales the bacteria. Symptoms including uncontrollable coughing fits usually develop seven to ten days after exposure.
The name whooping cough comes from the sound a person makes when gasping for air during a coughing fit.
So far this year there have been 897 cases of whooping cough in Colorado.