Clark County health officials are declaring an end to this year’s whooping cough outbreak.
Local case numbers spiked in May but have since remained below the county’s upper limit threshold for two consecutive months. Weekly case numbers have also fallen to pre-outbreak levels, said Derel Glashower, Clark County Public Health epidemiologist.
Health officials warn, however, that sporadic cases of whooping cough will continue and smaller outbreaks may occur, particularly in settings where people come together.
Through November, Clark County health officials recorded 345 cases of whooping cough, compared with just 52 cases during the same period last year. Of those 345 cases, four people — two of whom were infants — were hospitalized.
This year’s case numbers mirror those of 2012, when more than 5,000 people were sickened in a statewide whooping cough epidemic. During the same time period in 2012, Clark County recorded 355 cases of whooping cough.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is an illness spread through respiratory secretions from coughing and sneezing. For the first few weeks, people with whooping cough can be contagious but only have seemingly harmless symptoms similar to those of a cold, according to health officials.
For infants, the illness is particularly dangerous, and potentially deadly.
People with whooping cough may experience coughing fits, followed by a “whooping” noise, vomiting and difficulty catching their breath. In older children and adults, the symptoms may be only a persistent cough, which is worse at night.
Babies who get whooping cough typically catch it from their older siblings or parents. Health officials recommend older children and adults get whooping cough boosters to protect those too young to be fully protected.
The state recommends children receive five doses of the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis) vaccine at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years. Adolescents 11 to 18 and adults 19 to 64 should receive a tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis booster, commonly known as Tdap. Pregnant women should also receive a Tdap booster during every pregnancy.
About 27 percent of the local cases this year are among people who were not up-to-date, or didn’t know if they were up-to-date, on their whooping cough vaccines, according to county health officials.