Whooping cough outbreak confirmed in GarCo

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GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) -- Public health officials are worried about children's health after four cases of pertussis -- also known as whooping cough-- were confirmed as of April 8.

The Garfield County Public Health (GCPH) workers are investigating other, unconfirmed cases of the contagious bacteria, hoping to control the outbreak.

GCPH staff says the best way to stop the spread of whooping cough is make sure your family is up-to-date on their Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccinations.

In December, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment declared a statewide whooping cough epidemic, but no cases were confirmed in Garfield County until now.

Laurel Little, the nurse manager with GCPH, says pertussis spreads easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes, and that's a big risk to newborns who are too young to be vaccinated.

The disease can be fatal to those at risk. Pertussis complications include severe illness, pneumonia, seizures and brain damage.

GCPH recommends that children, pre-teens, pregnant women, and anyone who works or lives around young kids get vaccinated.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should visit your doctor:

  • If the first few days, you may have runny or stuffed-up nose, sneezing, mild cough, and even pauses in breathing for infants.

  • After one or two weeks, mild to severe coughing starts.

  • Children and babies can cough very hard repeatedly.

  • When children gasp for breath after a coughing fit, they make a “whooping” sound

  • Coughing fits make it hard to breathe, eat, drink or sleep.

  • Babies and young children may turn blue while coughing from lack of oxygen.

  • Coughing fits may occur over the span of more than two months.

Vaccinations are available by appointment at the GCPH offices at 2014 Blake Avenue in Glenwood Springs and 195 West 14th Street in Rifle. Call 970-945-6614 for an appointment, or click the links below for more information.

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