Western Idaho health officials have advised health care providers to watch for cases of what is commonly known as whooping cough after seeing an uptick of the illnesses. The Southwest District Health issued a health advisory to providers earlier this week saying it had investigated 42 confirmed or probable cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, since the beginning of the year with 22 of those cases since October 1, in Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, and Payette counties. Epidemiologist and Environmental Health Supervisor Jami Delmore told News Radio 1310 the Health District started seeming more cases withing family units and not so much within area schools in the impacted areas.

According to the Center for Disease Control, pertussis is known for its violent and persistent coughing in patients, especially babies, that can make it hard to breathe and is characterized by the "whoop" sound as they gasp for breath. The health district has encouraged health care providers to "maintain a heightened degree of suspicion" for the illness and test patients with signs and symptoms because of the highly infectious nature of whooping cough. Patients are typically given antibiotics to treat the illness.

At times the illness can seem like a common cold lasting up to two weeks. The health district says often times adults and teenagers spread the illness to younger children because of mild symptoms that are not diagnosed. Infants are especially at high risk if infected with whooping cough which could lead to pneumonia and even death. Infants cannot be vaccinated for pertussis until they at least one year old.

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