Whooping cough hits home

Spike in local pertussis cases prompts warning from health officials

A recent spike in cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, in Butte County has prompted health officials to release a reminder that the illness is particularly dangerous to young children and pregnant women.

As of Dec. 31, a total of 29 cases of pertussis had been reported, the highest number since the statewide pertussis outbreak in 2010, according to a Butte County Public Health Department press release. Initial symptoms of pertussis—runny nose, sneezing, low fever and mild cough—are similar to those of the common cold, but can continue for weeks or months. Severe symptoms include difficulty breathing, turning red or blue in the face, a “whoop” sound when coughing, extreme fatigue and sweating spells.

Pertussis is easily spread by coughing or sneezing; children under 12 months old and those with weak immune systems are at risk of severe life-threatening complications. Go to the county’s website at www.tinyurl.com/bcwhooping for more information.