Health department: TriMet bus driver doesn't have whooping cough

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Multnomah Counth Health Department has determined that a TriMet bus driver does not actually have whooping cough and that the public should not be worried.

The news came a few hours after the transit organization issued a warning that one of its drivers had come down with whooping cough, also known as pertussis, and riders on Line 10 in Southeast Portland might be affected.

TriMet aired out the bus and disinfected it as a precaution before learning the determination from the health department. The driver does have a cough and is on antibiotics, but health officials said the person does not have whooping cough.

However, the health department said they have seen an uptick in whooping cough cases this year and if you come down with symptoms, it's a good idea to see your doctor.

Statement from the Multnomah County Health Department

Multnomah County health officials are responding to reports that a TriMet employee on the No. 10 bus in Portland on Tuesday, Nov. 5 had pertussis or whooping cough. There has been no laboratory confirmed or physician's report of such a pertussis case reported to any metro-area local public health department.

Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Justin Denny said Wednesday that even if there were a confirmed case in a TriMet driver, the risk to the riding public would be minimal because of the brief amount of time that riders are close to the driver.

"The good news the risk is very low, most of us are immunized and if someone did become sick, they can be tested and treated,'' Dr. Denny said. "If you or your loved ones are not up-to-date on your shots, this is yet another reminder."

TriMet staff are working with the health department around the issue. Although neither cleaning nor taking the bus out of service are needed to combat this disease, health officials applauded TriMet for taking precautionary steps while gathering additional information.

What is pertussis?

Pertussis is the same thing as whooping cough. It is a serious contagious disease that can spread through coughing or sneezing among those who live with, and spend prolonged periods with, a contagious person.

The greatest concern is for children under six months and pregnant women. Infants can become seriously ill. Older children and adults rarely develop serious illness but can be miserable with coughing fits that last weeks or months.

Getting a shot for pertussis is the best way to stop spread no matter your age. If you think you have whooping cough, you can get tested or treated.

If you have symptoms or concerns, call your doctor or health care provider. Or if you have questions about symptoms or the vaccine you can learn more at Multnomah County or:

  • In Multnomah County call 503-988-3406.

  • In Washington County call 503-846-3594.

  • In Clackamas County call 503-742-5300.

  • Or call the state of Oregon at 971-673-0300 (TTY971-673-0372)or 800-422-6012.