EUGENE, Ore. -- The number of whooping cough cases continues to grow in Lane County, and health officials said they expect more cases to show up. There have now been 59 reported cases.
Dr. Patrick Luedtke with Lane County Public Health said they typically see less than 20 cases in the entire county each year. He said there 17 schools in the county have reported the infection. Luedtke said whooping cough is spread by coughing and sneezing.
However, there are a number of ways to keep the contagious bacteria from spreading. He wants people to cover their cough or sneeze, wash their hands frequently and throw away used tissues.
Luedtke said the most effective way to prevent the bacteria is to get vaccinated. But he said even with the vaccine, there is still a risk of getting the infection.
"Whooping cough vaccine is not a perfect vaccine,” said Luedtke. “It doesn't protect 100 percent and it doesn't protect people for life. So it depends on your age group. But 70 to 80 percent of people will become protected from the whooping cough vaccine, the booster that we give to adults."
He said symptoms in older children and adults are similar to a cold which includes a runny nose, sneezing and a severe cough.
Luedtke said the people who are most vulnerable to catching the infection are babies, older people and those with respiratory issues.
Unfortunately, he expects the recent outbreak to go weeks but is hopeful it won’t last for several months.