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Clinics set up in Black Hills to combat whooping cough outbreak

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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE (AP) — South Dakota's Health Department has organized two pertussis vaccination clinics in the western Black Hills, after an outbreak of the disease better known as whooping cough.

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Shots were being given in Rapid City on Wednesday, and a clinic was scheduled to open Thursday in Spearfish. The clinics are targeted at infants, children, adolescents and pregnant women who are not current with their pertussis vaccinations.

"If people aren't sick there is no need to see your doctor and get tested," State Epidemiologist Lon Kightlinger said in a statement. "Instead, what we encourage everybody to do is to check their immunization status and if they're not up to date, come to one of the clinics and get vaccinated."

More than one-third of the 29 reported cases of pertussis so far this year in South Dakota have been in the Black Hills. Medical clinics and nursing homes in the region have put precautions in place to stem the spread of the disease, including restricting visitation and putting routine checkups on hold for young children.

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by cough. 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 crowing or high pitched whoop. Coughing episodes may recur for one to two months, and are more frequent at night.

The South Dakota Health Department offers pertussis information.

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