Jefferson County has had a confirmed case of pertussis. An investigation is underway to track down those who may have potentially been exposed.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is an extremely contagious but vaccine preventable disease, characterized by severe coughing spasms. This can sometimes be followed by a “whoop” sound on inhalation. It is most dangerous for infants and young children.

School District 509-J sent a notice to parents May 9 noting, “We were notified today that a student at Madras Primary has been diagnosed with pertussis, also called whooping cough. The symptoms of pertussis include cold-like symptoms, low grade fever, and a mild cough that can progress into severe coughing, including coughing spells that can last one to two minutes.”

“Transmission is caused by exposure to airborne droplets from another person that has coughed or sneezed. The best methods for prevention are handwashing, vaccination, and cough etiquette (covering cough, sneezing/coughing into your sleeve). Please contact your primary care provider if you or your children have prolonged coughing spells, difficulty breathing, or tiredness in addition to the above symptoms,” the notice said.

The health department is asking anyone who believes they or a loved one has pertussis to call their doctor to discuss symptoms or for testing.

Routine vaccination for children with the DTaP vaccine and the Tdap vaccine for adults can help prevent the spread of this disease. Vaccination is recommended for those who have not had their shot.

Adults can be vaccinated at their local pharmacy. Both adults and children can be vaccinated at their doctor’s office or the health department. Discounted vaccine is available at the Jefferson County Health Department for those who do not have insurance.

If you have any questions, call Sarah Decker, R.N. at the Jefferson County Health Department at 541-475-4456.

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