Tests find 5 more whooping cough cases in Webster County

MARSHFIELD, Mo. - The administrator of the Webster County Health Unit says lab tests came back positive for five more cases of pertussis (whooping cough) from the Amish community along Highway C north of Seymour. That brings the total number of confirmed cases to 11.
That number may rise as lab testing continues over the next two weeks.

Two babies are hospitalized from the outbreak of whooping cough, which started a couple of weeks ago.

The Webster County Health Unit used word of mouth and set up an immunization clinic at an Amish country store last week. In two days, they vaccinated more than 300 adults and children.

So far, no confirmed cases are outside the Amish community, and health officials have not even seen any cases in the Amish community along Highway A north of Diggins.


News release from Terre Banks, administrator, Webster County Health Unit

The Webster County Health Unit has been working diligently to thwart the spread of the whooping cough in the Seymour community off of Highway C.

Pertussis or the whooping cough is a very contagious respiratory disease only found in humans. It is spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing or when spending a lot of time near one another where you share the same breathing space. Infants are at greatest risk for serious complications from pertussis and many may require treatment in the hospital. Those infants who get pertussis are usually exposed by older siblings, parents, or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.

Pertussis usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever. In infants, the cough can be minimal or absent altogether. Nearly half of the infants that get whooping cough need care in the hospital. The early symptoms can last for 1 to 2 weeks and usually include runny nose, low-grade fever, mild occasional cough, and apnea (pause in breathing in infants). This is why pertussis appears to be nothing more than a common cold in its early stages and is often not suspected or diagnosed until the more severe symptoms appear.

The later-stage symptoms appear after 1 to 2 weeks and as the disease progresses, the more traditional symptoms may appear such as the paroxysms (fits) of many, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop”, vomiting during or after coughing fits, and exhaustion after coughing fits. Coughing fits generally become more common and severe as the disease continues, can occur more often at night, and can go on for up to 10 weeks or more. The disease is generally milder in teens and adults, especially those who have been vaccinated.

Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics and early treatment is very important. The treatment may make the infection less serious if it is started early before coughing fits begin, and it can also help prevent the spread of the disease to close contacts. If you have experienced an exposure and/or have symptoms, please see your primary care provider.

Pertussis vaccines are the most effective means we have to prevent this disease; however, no vaccine is 100% effective. If pertussis is circulating in the community, there is a chance that a fully vaccinated
person, of any age, can catch this contagious disease. If you have been vaccinated but still get sick, the infection is usually not as bad.

There is vaccine available at Webster County Health Unit for infants as young as 6 weeks of age up to and including adults. If you, your child or other family members are not vaccinated completely or at all, you should receive the appropriate vaccination. If you meet eligibility requirements, you may be able to receive the vaccine free of charge.

Please contact the Webster County Health Unit at (417) 859-2532 with any questions.

End of news release