Whooping cough reported in 15 Weld County schools; highest number of cases reported in 20 years

Prevention, control efforts under way

WELD COUNTY, Colo. - Whooping cough has been reported in 15 Weld County schools, where levels of the illness have climbed to the highest in 20 years.

The illness, which is also known as pertussis, has been spreading through the schools since December 2012. The infection spreads through the air when a person coughs or sneezes.

The Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment has launched a public education campaign to control the spread of whooping cough.

"Our educational campaign contains three key messages" said Dr. Mark Wallace, Executive Director of the health department. “First, get vaccinated.  It’s important to follow the recommended series of boosters for both adults and children -- because the pertussis vaccine doesn’t provide life-long protection.”

Wallace also said that people who have a cough lasting more than two weeks should be tested for whooping cough.

Those who have whooping cough should stay home to avoid spreading the infection.

The primary symptoms of whooping cough are a persistent cough and cold-like symptoms. The symptoms often become more severe over the first two weeks, gradually moving toward coughing fits followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound, vomiting and breathlessness.

Some people with whooping cough, especially young children, can eventually develop bacterial pneumonia and other complications. It can even be fatal in some cases.

Adults and children of all ages can contract whooping cough. Weld County’s cases from the last five months include people whose ages range from 9 weeks to 71 years.

Read more about whooping cough: http://ch7ne.ws/Zk1dmD