Local pertussis cases on the rise


By Claire Ninde

Special to The SUN

Since Jan. 1, 20 cases of pertussis have been diagnosed in La Plata and Archuleta counties, to date.

Ten of these cases have been reported since Sept. 1, with eight of these reported in school-aged children. In 2014, 21 cases of pertussis were reported in total in both counties.

Also known as whooping cough, pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory disease that is spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs and another individual breathes in the bacteria.

Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths, which may result in a “whooping” sound.

“We recommend that individuals and families check their immunization status and if you are not up to date with your immunizations, now is the time to do it,” said Keri McCune, RN, regional epidemiologist for San Juan Basin Health Department. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age.

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