Whooping cough still a threat in Kitsap

Washington state continues to see record numbers of Whooping Cough cases and officials are urging the public to follow safety precautions and stay current on vaccinations.

Washington State Health Department officials are calling the recent outbreak of whooping cough, or pertussis, an epidemic with 12 times the numbers cases reported this year in comparison to last.

In Kitsap County, 56 cases have been reported in patients ranging in age from one month to 82 years old with one infant hospitalized.

Although local officials said occurrences of the disease have leveled off in Kitsap County,  the need for immunizations remains.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious airborne disease causing uncontrollable and violent coughing. Initial symptoms of the disease resemble the common cold with severe coughing beginning 10 to 12 days after initial symptoms occur.

Once pertussis manifests, violent coughing occurs and causes a person with the illness to lose air in the lungs and causes a “whooping” sound on intake.

The disease is most dangerous to the young and can cause permanent disability and death in infants.

Kerry Dobbelaere, clinical services program manager for the Kitsap Public Health District, said officials nationwide are recommending a three-fold prevention strategy.

The first is to cover coughs and follow good hand washing techniques.

“Cough into the crick of the elbow or use  a handkerchief and follow good hand washing hygiene,”  Dobbelaere said.

The second prevention strategy is to stay home if ill and see a health provider if illness persists.

The third is to make sure adults and children are up to date on immunizations.

Dobbelaere said it is important adults be up to date on vaccinations to protect young people and  especially infants who are too young to have been completely immunized.

“The people at highest risks are infants we cannot immunize,” she said. “We really want to make sure that adults around high-risk people get immunized to protect the young.”

Adults are recommended to get one dose of the Tdap vaccine, which is for people 11 years of age and older. Younger children require five doses of the vaccine by age 7 for optimal protection. Once immunized, the vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective.

Immunizations are readily available in the area at local pharmacies and many health care providers, and The Kitsap Public Health District also has immunizations available for low-income and people with no insurance or insurance that does not cover the vaccine.

Dobbelaere stressed the importance of vaccinations in the adult population as well as up-to-date immunizations for the young.

For more information on the disease or immunizations, contact the Kitsap Public Health District at 360-337-5235 or visit their website at


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