Whooping cough epidemic worsening in Mesa County

By: Christy Dimond Email
By: Christy Dimond Email

The whooping cough epidemic this year in Colorado has reached a new high, with more than 1,000 cases reported statewide.

On Monday, Colorado Department of Public Health reported 1,026 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis.

In Mesa County, 19 cases have been reported so far, which is far above the county's average of five to ten cases per year, said Karen Martsolf, public information officer for Mesa County Health Department.

"It's very contagious and it's particularly dangerous for infants and young children, so it's alarming that we're seeing a rise of cases," Martsolf said.

It's most dangerous for infants less than 12 months old, Marsolf said, because they haven't received all of the vaccination to protect against the virus.

If you think you've never had whooping cough, physicians say that might not be true. Dr. Donald Nikolay, Chief Medical Officer at Community Hospital, said people often ignore the symptoms.

"Symptoms are less severe in adults than in children, so adults may have a cough for two or three weeks and not think anything of it, just think it is a nagging virus," Dr. Nikolay said.

If you've gotten the vaccine in the past, that doesn't mean you're in the clear. Martsolf said the vaccine tends to wane off over time, which is why Colorado Department of Public Health encourages anyone under 65 to get vaccinated.

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