INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Washoe County Health District this week reported that pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, has been confirmed in three Truckee Meadows residents in the same household. These are the first confirmed cases in Washoe County since August of 2011.
Washoe County Health District staff is investigating the source of the infections, and notifications to persons who have been in contact with the confirmed cases are being made. It is anticipated as many as 70 persons may have come in direct contact with the cases being investigated.
“Pertussis has been on the rise, particularly on the West Coast and our neighboring states,” said Washoe County District Health Officer Dr. Joseph Iser. “We’ve been very lucky not to have seen the volume of cases that other states, like California and Washington, have seen, nor any fatalities.”
Tdap vaccination is recommended for the following:
• All adolescents and adults without history of Tdap vaccination, especially if they have close contact to infants 12 months and younger.
• Pregnant women who are at least 20 weeks or more into their pregnancy.
In addition, parents should consult with their health care provider to ensure infants and toddlers are up to date on their all their childhood immunizations. Tdap and DTaP, immunizations that protect against pertussis, are available from your health care provider or clinic, some pharmacies, or the county health district. Both immunizations are a combination of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine.
Pertussis is caused by bacteria that spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Droplets are produced in the air but don’t travel far. They usually only infect persons nearby.
Pertussis usually starts out with symptoms similar to a cold, such as sneezing, cough, low-grade fever, and runny nose. A fever isn’t always present. The cough tends to be worse at night and over time can become severe, lasting weeks or months. It can lead to more serious illness such as pneumonia, or even rib fractures from coughing.
Pertussis should be considered when a cough illness occurs after a direct exposure to pertussis; a persistent cough of unknown origin that lasts more than seven days; a violent cough occurs with a whooping sound, vomiting, or gagging while coughing; or, if there is an inability to catch one’s breath while coughing.
In infants, the cough can be minimal or not even there. Infants may have a symptom known as “apnea.” Apnea is a pause in the child’s breathing pattern. Pertussis is most dangerous for babies. More than half of infants younger than one year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized.
The Washoe County Health District Immunization Clinic is located at 1001 E. Ninth St., Building B, in Reno, at the corner of Ninth and Wells Avenue. Appointments are required for all immunization services. To make an appointment, call 775-328-2402 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 8 a.m. to noon, and 1-4:30 p.m. Information on immunizations, including vaccine schedules and fees, can be found on line at washoecounty.us/health.