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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of November 13 - 19, 2002

News

Whooping cough numbers taxing county resources


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

The number of Blaine County residents currently suffering from the bacterial infection whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has risen to 165, according to Linda Johnson, the senior public health nurse for Blaine County. All of the schools and day cares throughout the Wood River Valley are affected.

Johnson said valley doctorsí offices are receiving between 50 to 100 calls a day. "There is a heightened awareness," she said.

Monie Smith, public information officer for the South Central Health District, said, "If youíve got kids who havenít gotten full immunizations, for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, then you need to keep up on those and make sure that youíre current."

Children begin getting DTaP immunizations at the age of 2 months. The last one is given at the age of 5.

Over 120 phone calls a day are coming into the Hailey Medical Clinic, said physician assistant Nanette Ford, "Itís taxing our resources."

Because of the overwhelming response to the situation people should only test if there are symptoms, Ford said. With one swab a lab can do three tests: direct fluorescent antibody, polymerase chain reaction, and a culture. The results come back from the state lab in Boise within two to three days.

There are three stages of whooping cough: The first is similar to a two-week cold; the second stage is coughing that can last for months if untreated, and the third is the telltale intermittent explosive coughing.

Whooping is a noise that comes from the voice box after a paroxysm when the sufferer is suddenly able to take in a breath again. Only about 50 percent of whooping cough sufferers whoop, but this is the origin of the name.

Preventative measures of antibiotic treatment are only recommended for exposed families, offices, classrooms or day care centers. However, a person is only protected for the time they are on antibiotics and if they are exposed again. must retake the antibiotics.

The incubation period is between one and three weeks. While a person is taking antibiotics they are still infectious for five days.

If gone untreated pertussis can be fatal in severe cases. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk since they may not be able to expel phlegm from their lungs, a condition, which can lead to pneumonia.

For more information, a good web site is www.whoopingcough.net.

 

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.