EUGENE, Ore.– Lane County has the highest number of pertussis, or whooping cough cases in the state, at 42 this year. The recent spike in July has doctors and health officials concerned.
PeaceHealth providers diagnosed 12 confirmed patients this month alone. All patients are under sixteen years old and one was a baby less than 2 months old.
“Two years ago there was a pertussis outbreak in California where 10 babies died. Last year, there was an outbreak in Washington so seems to be Oregon’s turn this year,” said Dr. Lauren Herbert.
In response to the increase, PeaceHealth has announced temporary guidelines for visitors to its hospitals and clinics.
– Any patient or visitor who arrives at our facilities cold-like symptons will be required to wear a mask.
– We are discouraging visitation to our hospitals by children underthe age of 1 because they are most at risk for severe complications of pertussis.
– Children 12 and under are not allowed to visit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Sacred Heart at RiverBend.
The guidelines are temporary and will be lifted once the community sees a downward trend in pertussis cases. Health officials are investigating whether this is an outbreak.
“What we’re doing is contact investigation. We’re taking people who have been confirmed as having pertussis and find out who they had contact with and trace back where they might have gotten the bacteria,” said Jason Davis of Lane County Public Health.
Pertussis is highly contagious and in most cases, the origin of infection is family members, usually the parents. Doctors are stressing the importance of being vaccinated.