Colorado whooping cough outbreak grows, Weld County and Douglas County issue warnings

Two or more cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, are being reported at seven different schools in Weld County and there is concern the outbreak could continue to spread.

State health officials say 1,118 total cases have been reported statewide this year -- and those are just the ones that were diagnosed. Others may have the illness and not realize it.

"As a general rule of thumb for any diagnosed case, there are about 10 undiagnosed cases," said Eric Aakko of the Weld County Dept. of Public Health and Environment.

"It's really bad," said Greeley West High School Student Azalea Cross. "There's a lot of people coughing around."

The disease starts with cold-like symptoms and progresses over several weeks to severe, violent coughing.

"I get scared of it cause I know I might get the same thing," said Belkin Carrasco, another Greeley West High School Student.

"We need to get the message out that people need to get the appropriate booster whether they're an adult or a child, because the pertussis vaccine does not provide lifelong protection," said Aakko.

Earlier this week, Douglas County Schools sent a letter to parents warning them about the pertussis outbreak.

"Colorado continues to see epidemic levels of pertussis cases," the letter said. "In Douglas, Adams and Arapahoe Counties, we continue to see the largest number of reported cases in 11-14 year olds."

Officials say you should get tested for pertussis if:

- You have have a cough of any duration with close contact to a confirmed case

- You have a cough for at least 5 days accompanied by violent coughing spasms or coughing so hard you vomit

- You have a cough for at least 14 days

Pertussis is very contagious and can be fatal in some cases.

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