November 6, 2013

Multnomah County health officials are responding to reports that a TriMet employee on the No. 10 bus in Portland on Tuesday, Nov. 5  had pertussis or whooping cough. There has been no laboratory confirmed or physician’s report of such a pertussis case reported to any metro-area local public health department.

Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Justin Denny said Wednesday that even if there were a confirmed case in a TriMet driver, the risk to the riding public would be minimal because of the brief amount of time that riders are close to the driver.

“The good news the risk is very low, most of us are immunized and if someone did become sick, they can be tested and treated,’’ Dr. Denny said. “If you or your loved ones are not up-to-date on your shots, this is yet another reminder.”

TriMet staff are working with the health department around the issue. Although neither cleaning nor taking the bus out of service are needed to combat this disease, health officials applauded TriMet for taking precautionary steps while gathering additional information.

What is pertussis?

Pertussis is the same thing as whooping cough. It is a serious contagious disease that can spread through coughing or sneezing among those who live with, and spend prolonged periods with, a contagious person. The greatest concern is for children under six months and pregnant women. Infants can become seriously ill. Older children and adults rarely develop serious illness but can be miserable with coughing fits that last weeks or months.

Getting a shot for pertussis is the best way to stop spread no matter your age. If you think you have whooping cough, you can get tested or treated.

If you have symptoms or concerns, call your doctor or health care provider. Or if you have questions about symptoms or the vaccine you can learn more at Multnomah County or: