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Public Health advisory: Whooping cough

(U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

(U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, and diagnosed throughout the year in New Mexico. Coughing can last up to 10 weeks or more, which is why the disease is sometimes known as the “100-day cough.”

The illness is spread from person to person via sneezing, coughing, or when spending a lot of time near an infected person in a shared space. Those displaying symptoms of pertussis are highly contagious for up to two weeks after the cough begins.

The best way to prevent pertussis among babies, children, teens and adults is to get vaccinated. The recommended pertussis vaccine for babies and children is called DTaP. This vaccine is typically given to babies and children at 2, 4, 6, 15-18 months and 4-6 years old. Preteens, teens and adults can receive a booster called Tdap for prevention. Doctors also recommend that pregnant women receive the vaccination in their third trimester to ensure their babies are protected.

You can help prevent the spread of pertussis by:
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Dispose of used tissues in a waste basket.
Cough or sneeze into the upper sleeve or your elbow, not hands, if tissue is unavailable.
Wash your hands often with antibacterial soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizing rub if soap and water are not available.

For more information about pertussis, please contact a primary care physician or the Public Health office at 575-784-1770.