Pertussis Outbreak in the Ashland Schools


 Pertussis Outbreak in the Ashland Schools

Medford, OR- Jackson County Public Health is responding to a pertussis outbreak in the Ashland Schools. Currently, there are other pertussis outbreaks throughout the United States (Montana, Michigan, and Alabama), and Canada.

To control further spread of pertussis Oregon state law requires exposed children under vaccinated for pertussis to be excluded from school for 21 days after the last day of possible exposure. Jackson County Public Health is requesting that exposed children who have not been vaccinated, or are under vaccinated against pertussis, not return back to school for 21 days. If the child receives a vaccine against pertussis immediately they may return to school. Although receiving the vaccine may not prevent the child from becoming ill with symptoms of pertussis if already exposed, it can convey protection from future exposures.

Regardless of vaccination status, children with symptoms must stay home from school until appropriately treated and no longer contagious. Jackson County Public Health recommends that parents/guardians contact their child’s healthcare provider for a pertussis PCR test and for possible treatment.

Vulnerable Populations

Infants are at greatest risk for getting pertussis and then having serious complications from it, including death. About half of infants younger than 1 year old who get pertussis need care in the hospital, and 1 out of 100 infants who get treatment in the hospital die. It is important that pregnant women and everyone that will be around the infant including, parents, siblings, grandparents, and babysitters be up to date with the age-appropriate vaccine. It is also critical to make sure healthcare providers are up to date with one-time Tdap booster does, especially those who care for babies.


After being exposed to pertussis, the first cold-like symptoms appear in about 10 days (1-3 weeks). These symptoms include a runny nose, low grade-fever, mild cough and apena in infants. After a week or two, the ‘cold’ goes away, but the cough becomes more pronounced with coughing spells that can trigger a gag reflex, vomiting, and take your breath away. Sometimes a ‘whoop’ is heard as the person gasps for air. Page 2 of 2


Dtap (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis) vaccine is available for children under 7 yrs of age, and Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis) vaccine is now available for older kids and adults (ages 10-64 yrs). Tdap can also be given to 7-10 year olds who are not fully immunized against Pertussis.

To reduce the risk of pertussis in new mothers and their young babies, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women receive Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy. The recommended time to get the shot is the 27th through 36th week of pregnancy, preferably during the earlier part of this time period. During outbreaks, prevention efforts should focus on improving rates of Tdap vaccination among pregnant women to reduce serious illness and possible deaths in vulnerable babies.

To help prevent the spread of this disease, families are encouraged to:

 Cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

 Practice frequent hand-washing

 Avoid sharing cups, drinks, etc

 Make sure everyone is up-to-date with their vaccines