Number of Island County whooping cough cases rises to 18

The number of "whooping cough" cases in Island County continues to climb, county officials reported this weekend.

A total of 18 cases of bordetella pertussis have been discovered in the past few weeks.

Island County Medical Officer Dr. Roger Case said most of the cases on South and Central Whidbey.

Case warned that whooping cough can occur at any age. Classic pertussis is characterized by spasms of severe coughing (paroxysms) lasting from six to 10 weeks. Case said pertussis should be suspected when any cough is paroxysmal or lasts more than a week.

The highly contagious disease typically lacks fever and classically progresses through three stages:

• Catarrhal (1–2 weeks): mild, upper respiratory tract symptoms gradually develop with an intermittent non-productive cough.

• Paroxysmal (1–2 weeks or longer): spasms of cough end with a gasp, whoop, or vomiting

(post-tussive emesis). Adolescents and adults may have less dramatic symptoms.

• Convalescent (2–6 weeks or longer): gradual resolution of the paroxysmal coughing.

Case said immunizations can reduce the possibility of getting the disease or spreading it.

County public health staff personnel are tracking all known contacts of those identified with the disease.

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