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Whooping Cough Warnings Issued

DALLAS -- Polk County has confirmed its first case this year of pertussis, or whooping cough, and Public Health officials are asking residents to update their immunizations.

DALLAS -- Polk County has confirmed its first case this year of pertussis, or whooping cough, and Public Health officials are asking residents to update their immunizations.

Randi Phillips, public health manager, said Monday that the county's first case was confirmed -- a student in a Dallas elementary school. Three more were probable -- two in Dallas and one in Independence -- with test results pending Monday.

"We really want to remind people that they need to check their immunization status and get vaccinated if necessary," Phillips said.

Cases of the contagious disease are on the rise in Oregon, with 156 reports confirmed so far this year.

Pertussis has been reported in Benton, Yamhill, Lincoln and Marion counties, according to Polk County Public Health.

The last reported cases of pertussis in Polk County were last year, said Kirk Hillebrand, Polk County's communicable disease nurse.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria. It's dangerous, and even fatal, for infants too young to be immunized, Hillebrand said.

Public health officials recommend individuals receive regular DTaP (Diptheria-Tatanus-acellular Pertussis) vaccinations for children at ages 15 to 18 months of age, and every two years between 2 and 6 years. Older children and adults should receive routine Tdap boosters starting at age 11 to protect themselves and those around them from whooping cough, especially people who are in contact with infants.

"Pertussis immunity from vaccination may wane over time, so it's important that new mothers, fathers and grandparents especially get another pertussis vaccination to protect their baby from whooping cough," Hillebrand said. "It is also important for health care providers to make sure they are up to date on their pertussis immunizations."

Pertussis symptoms begin with a runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and mild cough. The cough gradually becomes more severe. After one or two weeks, the second stage of the illness begins, which is characterized by fits of coughing ending with a gasp or whoop as the patient tries to get air. Sometimes the burst of coughing results in vomiting. This stage of the illness may persist for up to 10 weeks.

In 2011, there were more than 300 pertussis cases reported in Oregon. Washington is experiencing an epidemic, with 1,132 cases as of April 28.

For more information: http://1.usa.gov/vpdpertussis or the Public Health webpage, http://www.co.polk.or.us/ph.

To obtain a pertussis vaccination, call your health care provider, pharmacist, local health department or SAFENET (1-800-723-3638).

Polk County Public Health offers walk-in appointments for the pertussis vaccine for both adults and children during clinic hours, 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m.

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