Whooping cough outbreak in San Luis Obispo

Several confirmed cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, have resulted in a California county issuing a public alert warning of the disease.

The Paso Robles Press reports that the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department issued the alert in May. Anyone in the county with symptoms of whooping cough -- long-lasting coughs that increase in severity to the point where they may induce coughing -- is asked to contact a medical provider immediately.

Pertussis is highly contagious and can be fatal to infants, according to a press release from the health department. Infants who are sick may become "pale or dusky blue" and stop breathing for brief periods of time if the cough becomes severe. Pertussis can result in pneumonia, seizures, sepsis and encephalopathy, health officials told the Paso Robles Press.

According to a release, whooping cough is primarily prevented and controlled through vaccination. But the vaccination -- often Adacel or Boostix -- wears off after six to 12 years, leaving adults and older children unprotected.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department sells Adacel and Boostrix vaccines for $25 and recommended that adolescents and adults get vaccinated. 

People infected with pertussis can remain infectious for several weeks, the newspaper reported.