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New October Whooping Cough Cases Push Colo. Total Over 1,000

Douglas Demaio
Army Medicine
Officials are warning that people should check to make sure their childhood whooping cough vaccine is up-to-date.

Another 100 cases of whooping cough, or pertussis were reported in Colorado during the last two weeks of October. Jefferson and Boulder counties had the highest number of cases.

Rates of pertussis are on the rise across the state, most notably in metro areas. There have been over 1,080 whooping cough cases in Colorado since the beginning of 2013.

Officials warn that people should check to make sure their childhood whooping cough vaccine is up-to-date and that the cough you may develop could be more than just a cold.

"...it's not enough, [people] do need a booster for pertussis."

“If you start to develop that really nagging cough that leads to fits of coughing, go see your doctor, and then we’re reminding doctors when people come in like that think of pertussis and please do a test,” said Mark Wallace, executive director of Weld County health.

“And then there are antibiotics available, and the commonest regimen only takes 5 days of treatment,” he said.

Middle and high school students have the highest infection rates because the vaccinations they received as young children are waning. Wallace warns that adolescents and older adults who may have a mild case of pertussis can spread it to young children who may not be old enough for the vaccination.

He says there has been a trend in recent years of people either not getting thepertussisvaccination or the booster shot, which has likely contributed to the high number of infections. 

“We’re in a place in which we need to do a couple of different things with our education program,"Wallace said. “Number one is to continue to convince people that there is not lifelong immunity against pertussis and so those childhood vaccinations while they are great at getting those kids through those early years it’s not enough, [people] do need a booster for pertussis.”

Wallace says the medical community needs to recognize that pertussis is still around.

“You know we have diseases less common with effective vaccinations,” Wallace said. “Now we need to make sure that our clinical colleges are thinking of pertussis if someone comes in with a coughing illness.”

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