Fit And Well Idaho: Whooping Cough Outbreak

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By Brittany Cooper

Filer, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) Back in January we told you about the pertussis, or whooping cough outbreak in Buhl and Filer. Since then, South Central Public Health District says there's been a number of people who've tested positive.

Pertussis is a contagious, respiratory disease and two Filer High School basketball players experienced that firsthand.

Mary Jensen Epidemiology Manager, South Central Public Health District explains, "we did have an outbreak that started with the girls basketball team at the high school in Filer and we started out with two people who tested positive."

"And as a result we had to take some actions. We had to figure what the protocol was, we called Mary Jensen... Because of the communication, we had three staff members diagnosed, that they really had the symptoms and experiencing those issues," adds Leon Madsen, the principal at Filer High School.

Usually with pertussis, you'll see violent coughing, often the person has to take deep breaths, resulting in a "whooping" sound.

Jensen adds, "it just seems like they cough and cough and cough, and they finally come up for air."

Anyone with the cough needs to be checked by a physician and if they're diagnosed with whooping cough, they need to stay home for the first five days they're on antibiotics, according to Jensen.

Jensen adds, "usually when they are diagnosed with it, they treat family members too even if they are not coughing."

Madsen says, "if you go get the immunization then that will protect you in the future, most people require two immunizations, one early in life, one later in life."

An adult came down with whooping cough in Buhl and Jensen cannot find a direct connection linking the towns' cases.

This week, District 3 in southwest Idaho is reporting a pertussis outbreak.

Meanwhile, according to the CDC, Idaho is reporting minimal influenza–like illness activity, compared to early January when it was high.