Ada County whooping cough cases double compared to same time last year

The Central District Health Department is warning heath care providers in Ada County to be on alert for a rise in whooping cough cases.

Health care officials say whooping cough cases, also known as pertussis, have increased in recent months compared to case loads last year. In the last three months, 14 pertussis cases were reported in Ada County. That’s twice the number compared to the same time last year.

Most cases are in kids and young adults between 13 and 20 years old, and one-quarter are older than 40. Some people had been vaccinated against pertussis and showed a milder cough than the traditional "whoop" so many recognize. That's why health care providers are urged to test all instances of a cough, according to a news release from St. Luke’s.

Although pertussis peaks in the fall and winter, it's is a year-round, serious respiratory disease most known for its infection cough. It's particularly worrisome for babies. Adults and teens, even if they were vaccinated as a child, are susceptible because the immunization wears off.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology says the number of cases are on the rise. 2012 saw a peak with more than 48,000 reported cases. In 2015, nearly 21,000 cases of pertussis were reported. While that's a decrease compared to 2014, annual case numbers are still significantly higher.

API says there are many factors that may account for the rise in pertussis cases:

  • Not all babies get the vaccination to protect them.
  • Protection against whooping cough decreases over time, and teens and adults can become infected repeatedly.
  • Pertussis rates among adults have risen 400% since 1990.
  • Children, teens and adults with undiagnosed pertussis can spread the disease to others.

Christina Lords: 208-377-6435, @ChristinaLords