Doctors deploy shots and drugs against whooping cough outbreak

From the Shots blog & NPR:

A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail from my son’s middle school alerting families that several students had been diagnosed with whooping cough, also called pertussis. I didn’t pay too much attention; my son has been vaccinated and he got a booster shot a couple of years ago so I hoped he would be protected.

Then I started to cough.

A visit to my doctor and a pertussis test confirmed that I am one of the 338 people infected with it in Oregon this year. That’s three times higher than last year.

Oregon’s increase is nowhere near the number of cases the state of Washington is reporting. The Washington State Department of Health has declared a whooping cough epidemic and as of June 2 they’ve reported 2,092 cases.

Still, public health officials in Oregon are trying to keep the outbreak from spreading. It’s a highly contagious disease known for its long fits of uncontrollable coughing. In adults it’s highly unpleasant, but in infants and young children it can cause serious respiratory problems and can be fatal, especially in babies less than a year old.

As soon as I was diagnosed, my doctor put me on a five-day course of the antibiotic azithromycin and told me to stay home until I’d finished them. The antibiotics don’t necessarily shorten the course of the illness but they do kill the bacteria so I won’t spread it to anyone else.

Read more and listen to the story here.

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