Whooping cough outbreak is reported in central Nevada town of Tonopah

The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) is investigating an outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) in the Tonopah area and the number of cases could grow in the coming weeks, as the disease has a long incubation period, according to the division.

Investigators have confirmed 10 cases, three of those being infants, in Tonopah of the “potentially fatal illness,” according to a statement from the division.

“The outbreak is not considered closed and more cases could occur since the longest incubation period is 21 days,” said at state epidemiologist at DPBH.

According to a release from the division, all close contacts have already been notified, but DPBH reported it was actively engaged in notifying all individuals that potentially came in contact with infected individuals.

Early symptoms appear in the form of a common cold such as a runny nose, low-grade fever and mild cough in most people.

In infants, the cough may not be present, though periods of apnea—where breathing stops or slows down, are possible, a release from the division stated.

After the initial stages, which may last about one or two weeks, individuals could experience “severe coughing fits,” which are later followed by a “whooping sound, vomiting after coughing, and exhaustion after coughing fits,” the release stated.

The division said with early treatment during the first one to two weeks, symptoms in the later stages could be lessened.

For more information on treatment and diagnosis, head to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website and search the site for pertussis diagnosis and treatment.

DPBH suggests calling your health care provider if you or someone in your family might have been exposed to whooping cough.

Individuals may also call Nevada Rural and Community Health Services at 775-684-5911.

Whooping cough can also be prevented. DPBH reported the best way to prevent whooping cough (pertussis) in babies, children and adults is to get vaccinated. All individuals who were confirmed positive for whooping cough cases in Tonopah were unvaccinated, according to the division.

This is not the first outbreak in Nevada.

From 2004 to 2013, the state saw a high of 181 cases of whooping cough in 2013, with a low of 24 in 2009, according to data from DPBH.

According to data from the CDC, only six cases occurred in the state in 2016, down from 98 in 2015.

To put the latest data in perspective from 2016, just the Tonopah outbreak alone is a 40 percent jump for 2017.

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes