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HEALTH

Delta County Sees Spike In Whooping Cough Cases

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flickr/breatheindigital

Delta County is seeing a spike in pertussis, also known as whooping cough, cases. The highly contagious respiratory disease causes uncontrollable coughing and can make it difficult for people to breathe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says whooping cough can be fatal, especially to young children under a year old.

Between July and August, Delta County saw seven confirmed cases of the disease.

Bonnie Koehler, the deputy director of the county health department, says this uptick in cases is concerning.

"In a typical year, I will see two maybe three pertussis cases in Delta County children and young adults," Koehler says.

In the previous two years, the county didn’t see any confirmed cases.

Last month, the county health department sent out an alert to area physicians asking them to watch for the disease.

Rene Landry oversees Mesa County’s regional disease surveillance and response program.

"We know that pertussis is endemic in Colorado on the whole, which means we see it here all the time," Landry says. "We see it in larger numbers than we’d like to."

She says it can be hard to pinpoint why there’s an increase in whooping cough cases. It could be linked to unvaccinated individuals, vaccine failure or someone spreading the illness without realizing it.

Public health officials say the best way to prevent the disease is through vaccination.

"You know we call that herd immunity," Landry says. "The more people vaccinated, the less chance that is can be transmitted to others." 

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