BEND, Ore. -

Deschutes County Health Services on Friday reported a small, three-person outbreak of Pertussis (whooping cough) in Bend school-aged children.

County and state public health officials recommend that individuals aged 2 months and older should be brought up to date on their Pertussis-containing vaccine to protect themselves and those around them from whooping cough.

There are vaccines available for infants and children (DTaP) and for older children, teens and adults (Tdap).

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacteria Bordetella Pertussis.

Pertussis is particularly dangerous, even fatal, for infants because of their small airways.

Pertussis begins with a runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and mild cough. Over the next one to two weeks, the cough gradually becomes more severe, progressing into the second stage of the disease. 

The second stage of the illness is characterized by coughing spasms that end with a gasp or whoop as the person tries to get air. The fits of coughing can be prolonged and severe, often resulting in vomiting. This stage of the illness may persist for up to 10 weeks.

For adults and older children, whooping cough is a lingering annoyance that can last for months; for infants, it can be deadly. Last year, there were 906 cases of Pertussis in Oregon, including 26 infants who had to be hospitalized.

It is important for everyone, both children and adults, to be vaccinated against pertussis to lessen the chance of spreading this disease to infants who are too young to be fully immunized. If the adults and older children surrounding a newborn have been immunized, it helps protect the infant from the disease.

The Pertussis vaccination is the best defense against outbreaks of the disease. The disease has less chance of spreading if more people are vaccinated.

Pertussis immunity from vaccination may decrease over time, so it’s important that new mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings receive another pertussis vaccination to protect their baby from whooping cough.

Pregnant women are now advised to receive a Pertussis-containing vaccine (Tdap) with every pregnancy. It is advised that even adolescents and adults who don't typically come in contact with small children should be vaccinated to protect themselves and the community.

Since DTaP and Tdap vaccines provide immunity to tetanus and diphtheria, the pertussis vaccination also gives needed protection against those diseases.

For more information about pertussis, visit http://1.usa.gov/PertussisOregon. To obtain a pertussis vaccination, call your health care provider or pharmacy.