Snohomish County sees a spike in whooping cough cases

Snohomish Health District has confirmed 80 cases of whooping cough (pertussis) as of late last month — more than three times as reported in all of last year.

Of this year’s total to date, 12 were infants, 14 were ages 1-5 years, 31 were 6-17 years old, and 23 were adults. Four of the most recently ill were infants under 3 months of age. Of these, three were hospitalized, and one baby died.

“Part of the reason for the higher numbers this year is that medical providers are on the alert for pertussis and are testing for it,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of Snohomish Health District. “Nonetheless, I’m very concerned about the infant cases. It’s especially important to surround infants with a protective ‘cocoon’ of immunity by immunizing their mothers, all caregivers and others who will be close to the baby.”

Small children and infants are especially at risk. Infants under two months of age are too young to get the pertussis vaccine and they are not fully protected until they have received all four doses at about 12-18 months.

The cases occurred throughout the county. No schools have been closed for pertussis outbreaks. Letters have gone home in schools where a child was confirmed to have pertussis.

The initial symptoms appear as an ordinary cold, with runny nose, sneezing, and a mild cough. It progresses within two weeks to include severe coughing in fits or spasms followed by a whooping sound, and vomiting. Older children and adults may have very mild symptoms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.