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Hawaii health officials confirm 5 cases of whooping cough, including hospitalization of child

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Hawaii health officials have confirmed five cases of whooping cough among family members, including one case that led to the hospitalization of a child.

The Hawaii Department of Health says each case of whooping cough affected an unvaccinated person and that it is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other states to “notify travelers who have been exposed.”

“The family had traveled from the mainland United States and stayed at a hotel on Oahu,” the department said in a statement Wednesday, adding that an investigation “identified no close contacts after the family arrived in Hawaii “.

Hawaii health officials say these are the first cases of whooping cough in the state since March of last year, and 89 confirmed and probable cases have been reported there since 2019.

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Honolulu Hawaii Skyline

The Hawaii Department of Health says the family who was infected with whooping cough traveled to Oahu from the U.S. mainland. (Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

The Department of Health has 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 ‘scream’ when inspiration.

“Pertussis can cause serious complications, especially in infants, such as pneumonia, dehydration, seizures and brain damage. Infants may not cough at all,” it also says. “Instead, they may suffer apnea (life-threatening pauses in breathing) or have difficulty breathing.”

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Girl coughing

Hawaii health officials say whooping cough can “cause severe coughing fits.” (iStock)

It was not immediately clear when the family arrived on Oahu.

Hawaii health officials say the best protection against whooping cough is to stay up to date on vaccines.

woman coughing

Hawaii health officials say symptoms of whooping cough include “difficulty breathing.” (iStock)

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They recommend that anyone in Hawaii seek medical attention if they or their children have symptoms, including if they have a fever, “have trouble breathing” or “cough violently and rapidly.”

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