WASHINGTON — Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo has been diagnosed with whooping cough, a rare and contagious disease that is officially known as pertussis.
The freshman Republican has been ill for several weeks with the disease, which still sickens thousands each year. He was diagnosed on Monday.
Curbelo, 35, was vaccinated as a child, his office says, but did not received recommended booster shots as an adult. He was probably contagious in early- to mid-July but no longer is so.
The disease is typically marked by a severe cough that is often followed by a deep breath that sounds like “whoop.” It is most dangerous to children, especially infants, but it frequently strikes teenagers and adults whose immunity has faded. Early symptoms resemble a cold, and infected people are most contagious up to about two weeks after the cough begins, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I want to use this opportunity to remind parents to vaccinate their children against this dangerous infection,” Curbelo said in a statement. “Adults should be aware that booster shots are necessary in order to maintain the vaccine’s effectiveness.”
Young children get a series of pertussis vaccination doses before kindergarten. The CDC urges a booster shot at age 11 or 12 — and says all adults who missed that dose as a preteen or teen should go ahead and get the booster.
Curbelo won a close House election last year to unseat one-term Rep. Joe Garcia in a bad year for Democrats. His race next year is one of the relatively few in the nation considered a tossup by Washington prognosticators.
The Capitol physician’s office has referred Curbelo’s case to the Washington, D.C., health department.