More than 200 exposed to whooping cough in Grant County

July 8, 2014 

Grant County Health District staff are investigating three confirmed cases and 210 people who came in contact with ill individuals with whooping cough in Mattawa and Quincy.

Antibiotics were given to the 210 people between Thursday and Monday.

“We are responding to a cluster of whooping cough cases among migrant farm workers near Mattawa and Quincy. Because of a large number of exposed and ill individuals in a very well-defined area, we are considering this a local outbreak,” said Dr. Alexander Brzezny, Grant County health officer.

No one has been hospitalized.

“Preventing severe disease and death in infants is our highest priority, Brzezny said. “We urge all pregnant women to get vaccinated and urge parents to vaccinate infants and children if they are not up to date.” More cases related to this location are likely.

To control the spread of the disease, Brzezny has recommended antibiotics for a number of individuals who have come into close contact, been housed with, or were transported together with the ill individuals.

Antibiotics are not recommended to the general public.

The highest priority is given to those who come in contact with children under 12 months of age, to pregnant women and those with certain lung conditions.

A pertussis, or Tdap, shot is recommended for all who are not up to date, especially those who work, live, or have recently visited Mattawa or Quincy.

The Tdap shot will be offered to all the workers. The vaccine reduces a chance that a person will become sick with pertussis. Getting pertussis does not prevent one from possibly getting it again in the future.

“The farm where the farm workers are being housed and the Mattawa Community Clinic have been extremely cooperative and responsive,” said Jeff Ketchel, the health district administrator. Health district staff are contacting all 210 patients to ask about their health and where they have visited or worked. This information will be shared with neighboring public health agencies and used to decide if there are additional people who should receive antibiotics.

If you are coughing or are concerned that you may have been exposed to pertussis, contact your doctor.

A person with pertussis spreads the disease through coughing. It is very important that you stay home and away from other people while waiting for your appointment, test results, or at least five days while you are taking antibiotics, when applicable, officials said.

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