State and local health officials investigating whooping cough outbreak at Mat Classic

The Washington State Department of Health has announced they are working with local health agencies, school nurses and the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to notify those who attended the Mat Classic state high school wrestling championships at the Tacoma Dome, Feb. 20 and 21, that they may have been exposed to whooping cough (pertussis).

According to a DOH press release at least 15 people – including wrestlers, coaching staff and spectators, all from Kittitas and Pacific counties – with whooping cough attended Mat Classic XXI.

The DOH urges anyone who attended the tourney and now has cold symptoms and a cough, or is in close contact with someone who has whooping cough, should contact a health care provider. People who have or may have pertussis should also stay away from babies, young children, and pregnant women until treated.

According to the DOH pertussis is common in the state, with an average of 600 cases reported each year over the past decade. It is also highly contagious and spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. Initial symptoms are similar to the common cold — sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever, and a mild cough. Within two weeks, the cough may become severe and can develop into coughing spells followed by a high-pitched whoop. An infected person can spread the disease from the beginning of the cold-like symptoms to three weeks after the coughing episodes start. Antibiotics can reduce the contagious period. The DOH recommends vaccination to prevent pertussis. For more information visit the DOH Web site at http://www.doh.wa.gov/EHSPHL/factsheet/pertussis.htm or www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/Immunize/diseases/pertussis.

For information on preventing whooping cough, contact your local health agency. For a list of local agencies visit the DOH’s Web site at www.doh.wa.gov/LHJMap/LHJMap.htm. Or contact the DOH’s Immunization Program at www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/Immunize or by calling (360) 236-3595.

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