4 cases of whooping cough reported in Garfield County

Four people in Garfield County had been diagnosed with whooping cough as of Monday, and several other unconfirmed cases are being investigated, Garfield County Public Health says.

Health officials are urging families to ensure they are up to date on their vaccinations for whooping cough, also known as pertussis, to help stop the spread of an illness that can be fatal, particularly in the case of newborns who are too young to be vaccinated.

While the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment declared a whooping cough epidemic in the state in December, Garfield County hadn’t reported any cases until now.

Nonfatal complications from the disease can include severe illness, hospitalization, pneumonia, seizures and brain damage.

However, older children and adults may have milder symptoms similar to a common cold with a cough and can end up spreading a disease they don’t know they have, health officials say. It can be easily transmitted through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes.

Health officials advise that anyone who may have been exposed should be evaluated by a physician. They say almost everyone who isn’t immune to whooping cough will get sick if exposed to it.

About 8,000 people in the United States died each year from whooping cough before a vaccine program for it was implemented in 1991. Today fewer than 50 die from it each year.

Early symptoms of whooping cough include a runny or stuffed-up nose, sneezing, a mild cough, and in the case of infants, even pauses in breathing. Sometimes-severe coughing starts in one or two weeks and can last for two months. Children and babies may cough hard and repeatedly, making a whooping sound when gasping for breath, and babies can turn blue from a lack of oxygen.

Health officials urge vaccinations for children, pre-teens, pregnant women, and teens and adults who live or work around young children.

Garfield County Public Health nursing staff are available for immunization appointments at 2014 Blake Ave. in Glenwood Springs and at 195 W. 14th St. in Rifle. They also will provide pertussis vaccinations for those 10 or older at health fairs throughout the county.

For more information, call 970-945-6614.


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