The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announced this week an outbreak of whooping cough (pertussis) in Eddy County. Twenty cases of whooping cough have been investigated or are currently being investigated in Eddy County residents since November 1st, 2016, including ten school-aged children.

Boy with whooping cough/Video Screen Shot

“Whooping cough is very contagious and can cause serious cough illness―especially in infants too young to be fully vaccinated,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent it.”

During 2015, there were no cases of pertussis reported in Eddy County. Statewide, 126 probable and confirmed whooping cough (pertussis) cases have been reported in 2016, which is nearly half the number of cases reported at the same time last year.

Symptoms of whooping cough infection may include coughing fits followed by a loud “whooping” sound. The coughing may be severe enough to cause vomiting. Infants, who may have minimal or no cough, sometimes show other symptoms such as apnea, where there is a pause in the child’s breathing pattern. Although, whooping cough can affect people of all ages, it can be particularly severe for infants. About half of babies younger than one-year of age who get the disease are hospitalized.

In addition to getting vaccinated against whooping cough, it is important for families and caregivers of new babies keep those vaccinations up to date:

  • All pregnant women should receive a Tdap booster ideally between the 27 and 36 week of each pregnancy.
  • All infants and children should receive the primary series of pertussis vaccine, called DTaP, at 2, 4, 6 and 12-18 months of age.
  • All children should receive a booster dose, called DTaP, prior to school entry at 4 to 6 years of age.
  • Children between 7 and 10 years of age who are behind on pertussis vaccine should get a Tdap
    Children should receive a booster dose of Tdap at entry to middle school if they haven’t received one previously.
  • Anyone caring for or spending time with an infant should receive a Tdap booster if they have not received one in the past, including people 65 and older.
  • All healthcare personnel should receive a Tdap booster, as soon as feasible, if they have not received or are unsure if they have previously received a dose of Tdap.

New Mexicans can contact their health care provider or pharmacy to get vaccinated. Public health offices offer the vaccine to those without insurance.