Several school-aged children diagnosed with whooping cough in Buncombe Co.

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BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – Buncombe County Health and Human Services warned parents Friday after several school-aged children were diagnosed with pertussis, or whooping cough.

The health department said they need the community’s help to stop the illness from spreading.

We want the community to know that schools, public health officials, and healthcare providers are working to identify and appropriately treat individuals suspected of having pertussis. However, we need the community’s help to stop the spread of this very contagious illness.

Buncombe County Health and Human Services

Buncombe County Health and Human Services Medical Director Dr. Jennifer Mullendore said the best way to stop whooping cough from spreading is through immunization. She said all children and adults should be up to date on their pertussis vaccines.

Dr. Mullendore said symptoms include a cough that lasts for two weeks, with severe coughing fits, a high-pitched “whooping” sound when taking a deep breath or vomiting after coughing fits.

Anyone with the symptoms should contact their healthcare provider to see if they have pertussis. Anyone suspected or known to have pertussis should stay home from work, school or group activities until they have finished their antibiotics, Dr. Mullendore said.

β€œWe want everyone to understand that this is a very contagious infection that can be extremely serious in babies. About half of all babies less than 1 year of age who get sick with pertussis end up hospitalized. Please help us keep our community safe and healthy. Get immunized against pertussis!” Dr. Mullendore said.

She said frequently handwashing, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer and covering your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing can prevent spreading whooping cough and other illnesses.

Vaccines will be available at the Buncombe County Immunization Clinic, located at 40 Coxe Avenue in Asheville, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are not necessary.

Click here for more information on pertussis.

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