Health officials in Hawaii have confirmed five cases of whooping cough among members of a family, including a case that has led to the hospitalization of a child.
The Hawaii Department of Health says each case of pertussis affected an unvaccinated individual and that it is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other states to “notify travelers who were exposed.”
“The family had traveled from the United States mainland and stayed at a hotel accommodation on Oahu,” the department said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that an investigation has “identified no close contacts after the family’s arrival in Hawaii.”
Hawaii health officials say these are the first whooping cough cases in the state since March of last year, and there have been 89 confirmed and probable cases reported there dating back to 2019.
The Department of Health described whooping cough as a “highly contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria” that can “cause severe coughing fits (up to 10 weeks or more), followed by a high-pitched ‘whoop’ sound when breathing in.”
“Whooping cough can lead to serious complications, especially in infants, such as pneumonia, dehydration, seizures, and brain damage. Infants may not cough at all,” it also said. “Instead, they may have apnea (life-threatening pauses in breathing) or struggle to breathe.”
It is not immediately clear when the family arrived in Oahu.
Hawaii health officials say the best protection against whooping cough is to stay up to date with vaccines.
They recommend anyone in Hawaii to see a doctor if they or their children are experiencing symptoms including if they have a fever, are “struggling to breathe” or are “coughing violently and rapidly.”