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Health officials: TriMet whooping cough risk low

Multnomah County health officials say the risk to passengers riding on the TriMet bus driven by an operator with a possible case of whooping cough is very low.

TriMet announced on Wednesday the driver of the Line 10 bus had been diagnosed with whooping cough — officially called pertussis — after finishing his Tuesday morning shift.

Now Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Justin Denny is saying the diagnosis has not been confirmed yet by lab test and, even if it is, the risk to the public is low.

“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,’’ Denny says. “If you or your loved ones are not up-to-date on your shots, this is yet another reminder.”

TriMet isolated and cleaned the bus, but it was never quarantined because that was not needed.

"It was cordoned off, albeit a bit overzealously, as a precaution. Essentially a hold was put on the bus, which is not unusual, until we had additional information," says TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt.

According to Alstadt, "Pertussis is spread by airborne transmission within close proximity. This means that once the involved operator left the bus, there was no longer an infectious concern. Meaning, merely airing out the bus would have eliminated any residual pertussis bacteria. While it wasn’t necessary to disinfect the bus, our maintenance personnel took the added caution of disinfecting all surfaces with an anti-microbial cleaner and changed the internal air filters. They wore common dust masks while doing this, not respirators."

County health and TriMet officials are advising anyone with health concerns to contact their medical provider. Additional information about whooping cough can be found Multnomah County's website at web.multco.us/health/pertussis 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.