PORTLAND -- Doctors say pertussis could be more prevalent this year in Oregon than it has in 60 years. The disease, also known as whooping cough, is highly contagious and can be deadly to babies.
"Infants can actually die of this disease, and over a quarter of infants who get the disease are hospitalized," said Dr. Paul Lewis. "They can be immunized at two, four and six months old, and we want to make sure people are on schedule for that," he said.
Lewis said children and seniors are most susceptible to the disease. Especially kids ages 10 to 13, because that's when they're due for their first booster shot.
"Kids and adults should get pertussis booster shots every 10 years," said Lewis. "Not only to protect themselves, but to make sure they don't spread it to those high-risk groups."
Jon and Carley Osborne wish they'd known that sooner. The couple, both 30 years old, came down with pertussis in July.
"At first, doctors thought it was just a cold, then strep throat or possibly a sinus infection, but they were wrong," said Jon Osborne. He got sick first, then he passed it on to his wife.
"Eventually, they tested me for pertussis and called me three days later and said, 'Oh yeah, we know what it is now.'"
"You cough very violently," added Carley Osborne.
After antibiotics and staying indoors for a week, the couple isn't contagious anymore,. But doctors say they'll continue to have symptoms for a while.
"I read that in China it's called the 100-day cough," said Jon Osborne.
"It really, really lasts," Dr. Lewis confirmed. "If you've been coughing much more than a week, especially this year in Oregon, it could be whooping cough."
To learn if you have whooping cough or to get a shot, call your family doctor. You can also contact your local health department:
In Multnomah County call (503) 988-3406.
In Washington County call (503) 846-3594.
In Clackamas County: call (503) 742-5300.
In Clark County, Wash. and the Vancouver area, call (360) 397-8182.
Or call the state of Oregon at (971) 673-0300 (TTY 971-673-0372) or (800) 422-6012.