Cases of whooping cough on the rise in Carson City area

Carson City Health & Human Services is reporting an increase of pertussis, or whooping cough, cases in Carson City and Douglas County.

Health & Human Services is reporting the outbreak as an isolated event; however, health officials are encouraging families to take preventive measures.

Caused by the pertussis bacteria, whooping cough is a serious respiratory infection, meaning it affects the lungs and breathing tubes. With violent coughing a hallmark of the infection, whooping cough is most harmful for babies and can be deadly.

Whooping cough starts with the following symptoms:

Runny or stuffed-up nose


Mild cough

A pause in breathing in infants (apnea)

After one to two weeks, coughing, which can be severe, begins. Children and babies may then begin to develop these more serious problems:

Hard and continual coughing

Gasping for breath after a coughing fit; the cougher may make a “whooping” sound (babies may not cough or make this sound — they may gag and gasp)

Difficulty breathing, eating, drinking, or sleeping because of coughing fits; these coughing fits may happen more at night.

Turning blue while coughing from lack of oxygen

Vomiting after coughing fits

Coughing fits can last for 10 weeks and sometimes happen again the next time the child has a respiratory illness.

Whooping cough is most dangerous for babies and young children. Babies younger than 1 year old who have pertussis may need to be cared for in the hospital; develop pneumonia; have seizures; or suffer brain damage.

From 2000-2014, there were 277 deaths from whooping cough reported in the United States. Almost all of the deaths (241 of the 277) were babies younger than three months of age who were too young to be protected against whooping cough by getting the shots.

Whooping cough spreads easily through the air when a person who has whooping cough breathes, coughs, or sneezes. Almost everyone who’s not immune to whooping cough will get sick if exposed to it. A person can spread the disease from the beginning of the sickness (when there’s cold-like symptoms) and for at least two weeks after coughing starts.

The best way to protect children against whooping cough is by having them get the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis shot, also called the DTaP shot.

For everyone 11 years of age and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the tetanus- diptheria-pertussis (Tdap) shot.

Residents are urged to contact their healthcare provider if they suspect they or a family member has symptoms of whooping cough.

For information about pertussis, go to or The Health Department can be reached at 775-283-7220 or


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