EUGENE, Ore. - Whooping cough--it's an epidemic in Washington state with 640 cases reported this year to date. Oregon cases are also up, this year to date,
just over 80 reported. We're seeing cases in Eugene as well, according to local pediatrician, Dr. Bruce Strimling. He just tested a patient for whooping cough Thursday morning.
Hasn't whooping cough nearly disappeared from the American medical charts?
Dr. Strimling says definitely not. "It's very unpleasant to have your child coughing until they vomit for 3 months," says the Eugene physician.
Strimling is seeing more kids that are being tested for whooping cough, a disease that's very contagious and can be deadly.
He adds some infants and toddlers cough so much, "Their blood oxygen level is so low that they will turn blue and pass out."
Professionals say it's on the rise in the Northwest because fewer babies and kids are getting their shots.
Lane County Public Health Officer, Dr. Pat Luedtke says he's tracking more vaccination-exemptions.
He adds the county has the 4th worst vaccine rate in the state for kindergartners and about 60% of new whooping cough cases are kids over 10 years old.
Strimling says unlike the flu vaccine from time to time--there's no shortage of whooping cough vaccine.
Showing KVAL News one of the immunization kits in his office, Strimling explains, "You put a needle on it and it's ready to inject."
KVAL's Tom Adams reports that, "Vaccinations are not only for kids; it's also for adults and nurse Tish (Strimling's registered nurse assistant) is doing her thing right now--
because I have a grand-baby coming up and need the protection, right?," as Adams received a booster shot in the office Thursday.
The doctor adds, "Recently the recommendation is that grandparents and older people who are going to be around children, also be immunized."
For Strimling, his biggest concern is for the newborns who are not immunized for the first several weeks. "Babies born at both hospitals today, tomorrow and yesterday who could die from
this disease if someone near them happens to cough."
Here's another scary number, only about 10 to 12 percent of cases are typically reported, so health officials say the Northwest numbers may only be the tip of the iceberg.