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With no whooping cough cases in 3 weeks, Henderson County outbreak declared 'closed'

Henderson County Department of Public Health building
The Henderson County Department of Public Health reported a growing outbreak of whooping cough, or pertussis, in April 2024.

Henderson County health officials are considering the local whooping cough outbreak closed.

Starting in April, a total of 119 cases were reported. In line with both local and CDC guidelines, an outbreak is considered closed after 21 days without a new case occurring.

Previously BPR reported Henderson County, where the first whooping cough cases in WNC this year were reported, started to show signs of a slowdown in May.

Public Health Information Officer Andrew Mundhenk explained to BPR that in order to close a pertussis outbreak, the county had to go 21 days without a new case occurring in a Henderson County resident.

“The last case occurred on May 28 so we can consider this outbreak closed. The total count was 119 cases.”

Mundhenk encourages families and individuals to still be mindful of symptoms even though the outbreak is closed.

“Anyone experiencing whooping cough symptoms should reach out to their healthcare provider. Vaccination is the best way to protect against whooping cough. Families are encouraged to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.”

The highly contagious respiratory infection has also shown up in neighboring Macon, Buncombe, Graham, and Transylvania counties.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, affects the airways and lungs and spreads easily when someone coughs or sneezes. It gets its name from the "whooping" sound people make when gasping for air after coughing. Symptoms typically develop five to 10 days after exposure but can take as long as 21 days.

For more information on pertussis, including symptoms and vaccination recommendations, visit cdc.gov/pertussis.

Jose Sandoval is the afternoon host and reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio.
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