Pertussis in Washington County

Release date: 06/01/2012
Sponsored by: Health & Human Services Department, Epidemiology/Communicable Diseases Division

To help prevent the spread of pertussis or "whooping cough," public health officials are strongly recommending vaccination, especially for children and those who may come into contact with infants.

Although cases of pertussis in Oregon have been low when compared with the on-going epidemic in Washington State, county and state public health officials are urging preventive measures, including: 

  • Covering your cough and washing your hands;
  • Keeping babies away from anyone who is coughing;
  • Vaccinating children against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis at 2, 4, 6 and 15–18 months, and again at 4 years to kindergarten. DTaP is the name of the vaccine used for children under age 7.
  • Vaccinating infants' parents and siblings (age 10 and older) with one dose of Tdap, a booster vaccine that helps protect adolescents and adults from getting pertussis and transmitting it to infants. Even adolescents and adults who don't typically come in contact with small children should be vaccinated.

Pertussis, or "whooping cough," is a highly contagious disease involving the respiratory tract. It is caused by a bacterium that is found in the mouth, nose and throat of an infected person. Pertussis can occur at any age. From 2000 through 2010, approximately 60 percent of the pertussis cases in Oregon were 10 years of age or older. Hospitalization occurs mostly among infants less than 1 year old; all deaths from pertussis (four in the past nine years) have been in infants.

Pertussis begins as a mild upper respiratory infection. Initially, symptoms resemble those of a common cold, including sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever and a mild cough. Within two weeks, the cough becomes more severe and is characterized by episodes of numerous rapid coughs followed by a crowing or high-pitched whoop. A thick, clear mucous may be discharged. These episodes may recur for one to two months, and are more frequent at night. Older people or partially immunized children generally have milder symptoms. Childhood immunization is recommended.

More information about Pertussis is available at:

Información en Español:

Contact:

Wendy Gordon, Dept. Communications Coordinator
503-846-3634
wendy_gordon@co.washington.or.us