Whooping Cough Epidemic Spreads: Pertussis Vaccination Suggested

Thursday, 15 Nov 2012 02:59 PM

By William Dennings

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Whooping cough is whipping back into an epidemic. Health officials are recommending every adult and child — particularly those who skipped flu shots this year — be vaccinated for the disease, also known as pertussis.
To put it simply, the Centers for Disease Control have reported a dramatic increase in the disease in every state except California and Wisconsin this year. In most states, the instance of pertussis has doubled and sometimes more than tripled.

The whooping cough epidemic has been surprisingly widespread. Whooping cough generally spreads in isolated epidemic areas every four-to-five years.

But this year saw more cases in more areas than in recent memory: a teacher at one Baltimore school was diagnosed; at least a dozen cases were confirmed in a single Arkansas school; an outbreak was confirmed in Kentucky.

Perhaps more alarming: In Vermont, one report says 90 percent of the 178 cases confirmed in young people had already been vaccinated; 514 cases were already reported in Florida this year; the disease even spread as far as Australia; in the Pacific Northwest, there were hopes that the “worst epidemic in 70 years” was coming to end; cases of the disease were up in Iowa, the worst seen in years; in the United Kingdom, at least 10 infants died as a result of whooping cough in 2012; a small Montana town saw the beginning of an outbreak.

Whooping cough is an infection of the lungs that causes a stuttering, rapid cough. The “whooping” sound is what the voice box does after a coughing bout, when the cougher is finally able to take a breath.

The warning signs of whooping cough are hard to discern and at times can be fatal.

Dr. Richard Krieger, chairman of the Infection Control Committee at Chilton Hospital in New Jersey, told news site North Jersey.com, "In the first one to two weeks of the illness, it can look like a common cold. Unless there is a history of exposure to a family member or other close contact with whooping cough, it is very hard to differentiate at this point.”

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