Area sees four cases of whooping cough

    The Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department (SWNPHD) has confirmed four cases of whooping cough (pertussis) in southwest Nebraska.  
    Pertussis is known as “whooping cough” because of the “whooping” sound that is made when gasping for air after a fit of coughing, especially in children. Symptoms will vary by age groups.
    “We are watching these whooping cough cases very closely. Our concern is that pertussis in its early stages appears to be nothing more than the common cold, it is often not suspected or diagnosed until the more severe symptoms appear,” said Melissa Propp, RN,  the surveillance nurse with SWNPHD.
    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent whooping cough among infants, children, teens and adults is to get vaccinated. Families should review their shot records and make sure all shots are current. A family’s  healthcare provider or SWNPHD can look up shot records on the state system, she said.
    Challenges with whooping  cough:
    Severe coughs associated with whooping cough can last for weeks or months and are usually sudden and violent.
    Coughs in teenagers and adults may be hard to distinguish from colds or influenza (flu) as the whooping sound may not be present.
    Whooping cough is easy to be under-diagnosed and easily spread to infants and children.
Infected people are most contagious up to about two weeks after the cough begins.
    Whooping cough is spread through coughing and sneezing in close contact with others who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria.
    “Newborns are especially vulnerable to pertussis so it is very important for all family members and caregivers to get vaccinated,” said Propp.
    Propp said SWNPHD is working with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Epidemiology on monitoring the area cases and providing pertussis education in the nine-county health district.
    SWNPHD serves Chase, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Hayes, Hitchcock, Keith, Perkins and Red Willow Counties.  For more information call  Propp at 308-345-4223.

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