Two cases of whooping cough close Camp Colman

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A popular summer camp is temporarily shut down after two cases of whooping cough.

The YMCA of Greater Seattle notified parents Tuesday that Camp Colman on the Key Peninsula would close early for the week after two camp participants were confirmed to have pertussis.

YMCA officials say the two people are not children.

Camp leaders say they followed the advice of the Pierce County Health Department, which suggested the camp closure out of what health officials described to KIRO 7 as "an abundance of caution."

Some 226 campers, ranging from first grade to high school age, were sent home Wednesday.

The YMCA says it is offering full refunds and free day camp this week as an alternative.

"We don't like it when camp is quiet in the summer, that's not what we want. But we have to follow the recommendations and do what we need to do to keep people safe," said Meredith Cambre, who heads the overnight camping program for the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

Health officials say pertussis is spread only person to person so no special cleaning of the camp is needed.

"We don't have any campers that have had pertussis but we sent campers home to make sure they don't have the opportunity to get it," said Cambre.

YMCA officials plan to re-open the camp on Sunday.

The camp is expected to reopen on Sunday. KIRO 7 News reporter Graham Johnson called camp leadership to ask what happened for a report on the news at 5 p.m.

Electron microscope image of the bacteria (Bordetella pertussis) responsible for pertussis (whooping cough). Credit: Sanofi Pasteur (copyright)

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease.

The CDC writes Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths which result in a "whooping" sound.