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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, August 4) – Two more cases of whooping cough were reported yesterday, and the island is one confirmed case away from an epidemic, according to Public Health officials.

Department of Public Health and Social Services officials are asking the public to take extra precautions against potentially acquiring and spreading the highly contagious disease, which can be passed on by coughing or sneezing.

The number of reported whooping cough cases has increased to 35 after two new cases were reported yesterday. Of the total number of cases, seven have been confirmed.

On Wednesday, Dr. Robert Haddock, territorial epidemiologist for the Department of Public Health and Social Services, said 27 of the cases involve toddlers. Public Health has classified the emergency as an outbreak, meaning at least two cases have been confirmed.

Health officials are urging parents to keep their infants away from people who have cold or cough symptoms. Those who suspect that they or their children might have whooping cough should seek medical attention.

Parents should also consider having children who are not sick immunized as a precautionary move. Public Health is advising that children who are suspected of being sick do not attend school and follow up with a physician immediately.

For adults who might be sick, Haddock said, they might want to wear face masks to guard against spreading the sickness while in public places.

Officials are also asking that physicians and private clinics monitor and vaccinate those patients who are lacking age-appropriate immunizations.

This Saturday, Public Health is holding an immunization clinic at the north wing of the Micronesia Mall. Parents who attend are asked to bring their child's current immunization shot record.

Whooping cough -- or pertussis -- is an infection of the respiratory system caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It's characterized by severe coughing spells that end in a "whooping" sound when the person breathes in.

Left untreated, the disease can be fatal, especially in children. The disease has been linked to the death of a 1-month-old child in early July, though Public Health is still awaiting test results to confirm whether the child had the disease.

August 4, 2006

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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