HEALTH: Pertussis reported in West Seattle; here’s what you need to know

We have two reports of pertussis (whooping cough) in West Seattle. They could be the same case – we have no way so far to check, without hearing directly from someone involved.

First word came in this WSB Community Forums post, saying that “a vaccinated student at Madison Middle School just tested positive for pertussis. The parent was hyper-alert and had the test done when a ‘normal’ mild cold abruptly turned into a barking cough just four days after onset of symptoms.”

Then we learned that Fauntleroy Church was circulating a notice that a child who attended the Fauntleroy Fall Festival a week ago (on October 27th) has been diagnosed: “This child was contagious at the time, though the family did not suspect pertussis at the time. The family was at the bus stops, in the Fauntleroy Church/YMCA parking lot, and in several areas of the church building, including the sanctuary during the Endolyne Children’s Choir performance.” Here’s the full notice:

We contacted Seattle-King County Public Health, where spokesperson Hilary Karasz tells WSB, “We’ve had fewer cases in 2019 than in 2018 but yes, it remains a public health concern.” The newest stats:

-In September 2019 we had 5 cases of pertussis reported to us; in September 2018 we had 11 cases.

-Year to date (2019) we have had 33 cases reported; for the same time frame in 2018 we had 93 cases.

Karasz adds, “Infants are at biggest risk for severe illness or death from pertussis.” Here’s a fact sheet about the disease. If you have concerns about possible exposure, please contact your doctor.

20 Replies to "HEALTH: Pertussis reported in West Seattle; here's what you need to know"

  • Trickycoolj November 4, 2019 (4:19 pm)

    Ugh. I got this in the dorm at UW and was vaccinated too. Good reminder to update my Tdap. Pertussis was pretty miserable even as a healthy adult. Took a while for the lungs to go back to normal. 

  • SLJ November 4, 2019 (4:46 pm)

    A reminder for SPS students with School-Based Health Centers–you can get all your vaccines at school for free.  Both West Seattle middle and high schools, and a few of the elementary schools, offer these services.

  • Lucia Stakkestad November 4, 2019 (6:32 pm)

    So less cases than last year. But still makes the news?

    • WSB November 4, 2019 (7:04 pm)

      It’s a highly dangerous, and relatively rare, disease and that’s why we reported it.

      • MP November 4, 2019 (7:46 pm)

        Yes, thank you for reporting this. This is especially important for families with infants.

    • Ws resident November 4, 2019 (7:13 pm)

      Yeah, so, Lucia? This case is in west seattle and it’s called the west seattle blog. So yeah, I want to know about it so I can protect my kids. Thanks WSB for reporting on this. 

    • Anne November 4, 2019 (8:13 pm)

      Yes-should make news. 

    • New Mom November 4, 2019 (9:58 pm)

      As a mom to a newborn who isn’t old enough to be vaccinated yet, I’m very thankful that the WS Blog reported this! 

    • Lynn November 4, 2019 (10:54 pm)

      Yes Lucia,  it’s important for parents to know what’s going on so we can take precautions.  Better to know than not. Dealing with a sick child is stressful and difficult.  

    • Karen Crisalli Winter November 5, 2019 (1:07 pm)

      Most people don’t even begin to suspect pertussis until it’s too late for antibiotics to do any good. In addition to the vaccine, the most effective way to control pertussis requires awareness of the risk for ALL coughs and early testing of anything suspicious. Too many people are under the impression that pertussis is a rare disease. It’s not. It’s just usually not diagnosed.

  • Yma November 4, 2019 (9:33 pm)

    Given that our child has a condition where being exposed to this is dangerous, it’s a good thing to know.

  • Bill November 5, 2019 (2:50 am)

    How does a vaccinated youth get whooping cough? Not up to date on the vaccination? Or, has it become resistant to the vaccine?

    • Lisa November 5, 2019 (4:19 pm)

      There is no reason to believe that just because you’ve been jabbed for anything, you’re immune. There is also vaccine-strain pertussis, which unfortunately is not being tested for vs wild pertussis. And these cases typically are seen in the fall right after school vaccinations since a vaccinated kid sheds virus. This happens every year. I’m expecting mandate talk again… even though this isn’t the issue. RN

      • SLJ November 5, 2019 (5:31 pm)

        The pertussis vaccine is made from dead/inactivated virus, so you don’t shed it.  You might be thinking of the live viruses, but pertussis isn’t one of those.  Many diseases have seasonal peak times but it’s not related to vaccination.  Most kids get their vaccines at their 5-year checkups, not right before school starts.  

      • RN for Real November 5, 2019 (9:52 pm)

        “Wild vs Vaccine Strain Pertussis”??? Please cite your sources, Lisa.Shedding pertussis virus? Pertussis isn’t a virus!! It’s a bacteria. I am an RN as well and I find this sort of posting highly irresponsible, especially since you’re touting your credentials. You don’t get pertussis from the vaccine. This is widely understood.I’m the mother of an immune impaired 1 year old and my 11 year old goes to Madison. We depend on herd immunity for my 1 year old–and for everyone really. It’s how vaccines work. If you are spreading information discouraging people from a vaccination, you’d better be able to cite your sources. My guess is you won’t. I also guess you aren’t an RN. 

  • Jamie November 5, 2019 (4:50 am)

    Thanks so much for reporting on this WSB. My husband got whooping cough two years ago and it was pretty miserable and long recovery. He was vaccinated, as was I. Some vaccines simply are less effective and wear out sooner. He got this yet somehow I did not.  

  • Liz Nelson November 5, 2019 (7:29 am)

    Thank you for the information. Being the mom of a childhood cancer survivor and knowing of at least one child in the immediate area who just finished treatment and has a compromised immune system, this is good information to have and I appreciate the warning. I will pass this along. 

  • momof3boys November 5, 2019 (9:36 am)

    Thank you. There are many among our citizens with auto-immune diseases that need to know this type of information as well.  Reminder to all – look at your vaccinations, and ask your doctors if any of them need to be updated!    

    • Lisa November 5, 2019 (4:21 pm)

      I know you mean well but autoimmune is an OVER reactive immune system and is not immunosuppression. RN

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