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LOGAN — Health officials have confirmed four cases of pertussis and placed several individuals on voluntary quarantine in areas of Cache County.
- First stage
Possibly low-grade fever
- Second stage
Uncontrolled coughing spells or fits
Possible whooping noise when child breathes in
Can last for 6-10 weeks
"We hope to aggressively get ahead of these confirmed cases so that we can effectively reduce the spread of this disease," said Lloyd Berentzen, director of the Bear River Health Department in Logan.
The first case, he said, was reported last week and three other cases were confirmed Thursday.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is highly contagious and one of the most commonly occurring vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States. The bacteria is typically spread by the coughing or sneezing from an infected person and many might not even know that they have the disease, as symptoms are similar to that of a common cold.
Unvaccinated children who attend the following schools are being asked to stay home, to lessen the impact of the recent outbreak:
- Thomas Edison South Elementary School in Nibly
- Heritage Elementary Schools in Nibley
- Spring Creek Middle School in Providence
Symptoms of the disease usually occur in two stages, beginning with a runny nose, sneezing and possibly a low-grade fever. The second stage of whooping cough, which can last for up to six to 10 weeks, includes uncontrolled spells or fits of coughing.
Infants are especially at risk for the disease, as they are often too young to receive a vaccination. However, they often contract the illness from unvaccinated individuals, said Utah Department of Health spokeswoman Cindy Bemis.
"We really worry about the babies," she said. "A sneeze can go a long way."
A pertussis booster vaccine has been available since 2005 and protects adults as well as babies who are too young to receive the full cycle of vaccinations. Bemis said everyone should be sure they are up to date on the pertussis vaccine, which is offered in conjunction with vaccinations for tetanus and diphtheria, both also highly contagious diseases that are common in the United States.
"We need to encourage individuals to recognize that we have a responsibility, sometimes beyond ourselves, to become vaccinated — because it's not just a protection for the individual, it's a protection, quite frankly, for the entire community," said Lloyd Berentzen, director of the Bear River Health Department.