Whooping Cough Outbreak In Douglas County

By: Gary Smollen Email
By: Gary Smollen Email

An outbreak of whooping cough has Douglas County Health Department officials concerned as 48 cases have been reported in recent days, 12 of those at Omaha's St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic School.

Also known as pertussis, whooping cough is highly contagious.

Offiicals at St. Robert Bellarmine at 119th and Pacific sent a letter home with students. Friday, absences were running about 7 percent while normal absenteeism is around 2 percent.

The news is better in the rest of the metro. A Channel 6 News spot check of the major school districts found no reported cases of whooping cough in the Omaha Public School District or among students in Council Bluffs.

Millard Public Schools did report one case, a student from Rohwer Elementary located at 177th and F.

Dr. Adi Pour with the Douglas County Health Department expects those numbers to grow. "Let's say you've been vaccinated. The likelihood is much less that you're going to be infected."

The whooping cough vaccine looses it's potency, so many school age kids are more susceptible.

The good news is after a five-day cycle of antibiotics, the whooping cough/pertussis bacteria is neutralized. They'll still be coughing, but your kids won't be contagious.

"What we are most concerned is in families where you have an individual with pertussis and you have a small infant that hasn't been able to be immunized yet, that's when we are most concerned," says Dr. Pour.

She suspects the number of whooping cough cases in the county is higher. It is an under reported disease because it acts like the common cold.

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