BEND, Ore. -

Since the start of the year, Deschutes County Public Health has identified 22 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, parents were advised Friday. "These cases are not all linked so pertussis is now considered to be widespread throughout Deschutes County," officials said.

There were six cases reported by a March 14th advisory and the rest since.

PREVENT ILLNESS: The best defense against Pertussis spreading in our schools and child care settings is a well immunized community.  Everyone 11 years and older are encouraged to get the Tdap vaccine and infants and children should be up to date on their DTaP vaccine series.  The vaccine is available through local health care providers as well as most pharmacies for those 11 years and older.  Deschutes County Health Services also provides these vaccinations.  Call 541-322-7400 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

WHAT IS PERTUSSIS? Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is transmitted person to person through droplets from a cough or sneeze.  Symptoms include a persistent, hacking cough severe enough to cause vomiting and even break ribs. The illness may last for up to three months or more, and may lead to pneumonia, hospitalization and missed work or school days.

TAKE ACTION: Any child or staff with symptoms similar to those described above should seek a medical evaluation by their provider to rule out pertussis.  If pertussis is suspected and antibiotics are prescribed for your child, they may not attend school until they have completed a minimum of five days of the prescribed medication.

WHO IS AT HIGHEST RISK? Infants and medically fragile children are at the highest risk of hospitalization and death from this disease so it is especially important for those who are in contact with these groups to receive their DtaP vaccine series or Tdap vaccine.  It is also important for women who are pregnant to receive their Tdap vaccine given the higher rates of illness & hospitalization among babies <2 months of age.

People with pertussis may not be aware they have it and can spread it to others, including infants and children. Babies who have not received all of their shots for whooping cough are especially vulnerable to complications.  Even adolescents and adults who don’t typically come in contact with small children should be vaccinated to protect the community.

LEARN MORE: For more information about pertussis visit: or contact Deschutes County Health Services, Communicable Disease Line at (541) 322-7418.