Cases of Pertussis on the Rise in South Dakota

The Department of Heath is reminding parents to make sure their kids are appropriately immunized.

There has been an increase in the number of cases of pertussis reported. So far this year, 90 cases have come in to the Health Department – the highest number reported since 2014 when the state saw 109 cases. The most affected counties include Edmunds (19), Brown (15), Minnehaha (13), and Hughes (12).

“Pertussis is a very serious illness so it is important to take precautions like ensuring you and your children are current with all recommended vaccines,” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist for the department, in a press release.

Pertussis is highly contagious and is spread from person to person through the air by the cough of an infected person. Early symptoms resemble a common cold, including sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever and a mild cough. Within two weeks, the cough becomes more severe and is characterized by episodes of numerous rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched whoop. Thick, clear mucus may be discharged following the cough. Coughing episodes may recur for one to two months, and are more frequent at night.

While it can affect people of any age, it is most severe in babies under 6 months old, especially in preterm and unvaccinated infants. The elderly are also at risk. The single most effective control measure is maintaining the highest possible level of immunization in the community.

More information about pertussis and its control can be found on the department’s website at

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