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Public Health Officials Warn of Whooping Cough Outbreak in Eugene

Public health officials are concerned about an outbreak of pertussis, or whooping cough, at Sheldon High School in Eugene.

Gram stain of Bordetella pertussis
Credit Centers for Disease Control
Gram stain of Bordetella pertussis

Lane County Public Health has confirmed 10 cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, at Sheldon High School in Eugene. Dr. Patrick Luedtke with Lane County Public Health says pertussis can spread quickly among those who are not vaccinated.

Luedtke: “We are not the best vaccinated state and Lane County is not the best vaccinated of Oregon’s 36 counties, so we are clearly at risk. So this is a preventive measure to say, it’s out there, go get protected, and practice respiratory etiquette.”

Luedtke says that includes covering your cough, disposing of tissues and washing hands frequently. Symptoms of whooping cough include fever, runny nose and in children, a distinctive cough.

 “Influenza-- one case will cause 2 more, if somebody is not immune.” Luedtke says, “But whooping cough-- one case will cause 15 or 16 more. So, in a population that’s not immune, not adequately protected, you can get these massive wildfire outbreaks of hundreds or thousands of cases.”  

Luedtke says whooping cough, or pertussis, can be deadly for infants and babies.

Symptoms of pertussis: Runny nose, congestion, cough, sneeze, fever.


Copyright 2018 KLCC

Rachael McDonald is KLCC's All Things Considered host. She also reports on a variety of topics including local government, education, and breaking news.