The Wyoming Department of Health is notifying the public of several reported pertussis, or more commonly known as whooping cough, cases in Campbell County.
The department was alerted to a cluster of pertussis cases affecting school-age children and adults. So far five cases have been confirmed.
The illness starts with cold-like symptoms but evolves into a persistent cough. In infants and children, it’s characterized violent, rapid coughing with a loud whooping sound.
Clay Van Houten, infectious disease epidemiology unit manager with the Department of Health, said it's concerning to have so many cases appear in a short amount of time. He said it’s likely Campbell County will see more cases since many of those who have the illness reported being around people with similar symptoms within the last month.
“It’s probably been simmering for about a month. Some of these cases are being recognized now by health care providers and reported. So [the department] just wanted to let everyone know that it’s definitely there, and there are measures they can take to protect themselves,” Van Houten said.
Van Houten said residents should make sure their pertussis vaccination is up to date, including a booster for older children and adults.
“Pertussis vaccine certainly helps. It helps prevent the illness. People who do get pertussis, it certainly decreases the symptom severity. And [it] certainly helps protects the infants that aren’t eligible for the vaccine,” he said.
Infants are the group most susceptible to pertussis because they cannot get the vaccine until later. Many infants under one year of age who contract the illness must be hospitialized. In some cases, it can be deadly.
In 2018, there was only one reported case of whooping cough in Campbell County. According to the Department of Health, there have been 13 cases reported across Wyoming this year.