Whooping cough outbreak emphasizes need for vaccinations

31_shot1359A LITTLE POKE  — Cynthia Grubb, RN CLC of the Pondera County Health Department gives a flu shot to County Commissioner Sandy Broesder.  I-O Photo by Buck Traxler




While there are no confirmed cases of whooping cough in Pondera County, an outbreak of pertussis in Gallatin County has health officials encouraging Montanans to be up-to-date with vaccinations.

There are 127 confirmed cases, year-to-date, reported in Montana with Gallatin having 41. The last 24 cases there came in the last two weeks and is a public health threat that could spread beyond Gallatin.

Cynthia Grubb, RN, CLC of the Pondera County Health Department (PCHD) tells the I-O, “We have a DTaP vaccine for pertussis which is the one people need to take. DTaP covers three diseases in one shot, diphtheria and pertussis.

“All children cover two months of age, parent, family members and caregivers of infants, should be vaccinated against pertussis,” she says. Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease that is especially dangerous for infants.

When not fully immunized, infants are vulnerable to infection and are at risk for hospitalization and death.

A typical case of the disease in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose that lasts for one to two-weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometime end with a “whooping” sound.

Sometimes it is called the 100-day cough for younger people and can be severe with gagging and vomiting.

DTaP shots should begin at age two months, but young infants are not adequately protected until three shots have been administered by the age of six months.

It should be noted too, protection from the vaccine can fade over time, so a booster is recommended for pre-teens, teens and adults.

Montana’s last reported death from whooping cough was in 2004, however, a recent outbreak of pertussis in California resulted in 10 infant deaths.

Grubb notes the health department can bill most insurance companies.

For more information or to make an appointment, call the PCHD at 271-3247.