REXBURG, Idaho - Whooping cough is making a return in eastern Idaho. There are two confirmed cases of the bacterial disease also known as pertussis at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg.
Health officials at the Eastern Idaho Public Health District said whooping cough can be very serious. It can sometimes lead to death among infants, children and adults. It is also very contagious.
"Actually to be honest I didn't know there was a vaccine. Sometimes I prefer to see if I do get it and see if my body can fight it off," said Andrew Bowles, BYU-Idaho student.
Bowles is one of many people who don't know about the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine, also known as T-DAP. The vaccine can help prevent whooping cough.
Amy Gamett, nurse manager at the public health district, said a vaccine is strongly recommended.
"Adults tend to forget that we need vaccines. The vaccine does wane after awhile so even though we have had our vaccines when we went to kindergarten we still need to have vaccines as an adult. This is why we see it in the adult population," said Gamett.
Whooping cough is a respiratory disease that starts out like an ordinary cold. It is characterized by severe coughing spells.
The medical director at BYU-Idaho, Andy Bradbury, said the two students who have been tested positive are being treated with antibiotics.
"We try to talk to roommates and people they have been in very close contact with. It doesn't mean you would have to be treated just because you happen to be in a classroom with someone," said Dr. Andy Bradbury.
The students are also being told to stay home.
"To get two on the same day it really makes you wonder and stop and look a little bit. Especially when these two people didn't really know each other so it makes you want to be a little bit careful," said Bradbury.
Bradbury said the university will get concerned when they have four unrelated cases, but right now he is advising students to stay up to date on all of their immunizations. Since the vaccine is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control insurance providers should cover the charge. If you don't have insurance contact your local health department and see if they can work with you.
Since January, five cases have been confirmed in eastern Idaho. The total number of cases in the state since the first of the year is 32.