LEA COUNTY, NM (KCBD) - The New Mexico Department of Health is encouraging residents to get tested if they are experiencing signs of pertussis after it was reported there have been 14 cases of whooping cough in several Lea County schools.
The cases have been tracked since November and most of the infections are from within elementary school students, according to a NMDOH news release. Whooping cough is also known as pertussis and is a highly contagious respiratory illness that is spread through coughs and sneezes.
Symptoms of pertussis usually include cold-like symptoms like coughs, runny noses, sore throats and little-to-no fevers. After a few days the cough will become more severe and could cause spasms or a series of coughs that reduces the chance to breathe between coughs. There may be a gasp or "whoop" and/ or gagging and vomiting at the end of the cough.
Unvaccinated people can get antibiotics for this illness. However, infants who get whooping cough can become very ill and may get pneumonia or other serious complications.
Recommended practices to prevent whooping cough are:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
- Put used tissues in a waste basket
- Cough or sneeze into the upper sleeve or elbow, not hands
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available