Pertussis outbreak among migrant farm workers in Mattawa & Quincy

MATTAWA, WA — Grant County Health District (GCHD) staff are investigating three laboratory confirmed cases and 210 people that came in contact with ill individuals with whooping cough (pertussis) in Mattawa and Quincy, WA. No one has been hospitalized. “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,” states Dr. Alexander Brzezny, Grant County Health Officer. He adds, “Preventing severe disease and death in infants is our highest priority. 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.

In an effort to control the spread of the disease, the Grant County
Health Officer has recommended antibiotics for a defined number of
individuals who have come into close contact, been housed with, or
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
(Tdap) shot is recommended for all who are not up to date, especially
those who work, live, or have recently visited Mattawa or Quincy.

Between July 3 and July 7, 210 patients received antibiotics. Also,
pertussis (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

“The farm where the farm workers are being housed and the Mattawa
Community Clinic have been extremely cooperative and responsive,” states Jeff Ketchel, GCHD Administrator. GCHD 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.

Due to the increasing number of pertussis cases in Mattawa please
contact your healthcare provider if you are coughing or are concerned
that you may have been exposed to pertussis. 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.

Pertussis has become a common disease in the United States, with peaks in disease every 3 to 5 years and frequent outbreaks. In 2012, 48,277 cases of pertussis were reported — and many more cases go unreported. In June 2014, California declared a pertussis epidemic. In Grant County, there were 56 cases of pertussis in 2013 and 11 cases so far in 2014.

A typical case of pertussis starts with a cough and runny nose for
one-to-two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits
that sometimes ends with a whooping sound. Unfortunately, young infants are less likely to have a notable cough – caregivers and health care providers should consider the possibility of pertussis in infants with coughs or colds to help in prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Grant County Health Officer reminds residents:

•    Pertussis “whooping cough” is a vaccine preventable disease.
•    Children may need up to five DTaP shots between two months of age and when they start school.
•    Tdap shot is required for 6th grade school entry.
•    Tdap is recommended for children 7-10 years old who are unvaccinated or under vaccinated for pertussis.
•    Tdap shot is recommended for all adults who are not up to date and do not have contraindication to vaccine.
•    Because immunity from pertussis shot or disease wears off, family
members and caregivers of infants should make sure they are up to date with their pertussis vaccination.
•    All pregnant women should get another Tdap vaccine at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy, regardless of prior vaccine.
•    To protect the babies, other family members should get the Tdap
booster as soon as possible.
•    All healthcare workers and childcare providers should be fully
immunized for pertussis.

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