Cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, are rising in some areas of the United States. Nevada is one area that has seen a rise in whooping cough cases in 2013, with Clark County having 103 reported cases of the illness so far this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the best way to avoid whooping cough is by getting a vaccine.
For those who aren't too familiar with whooping cough, the CDC describes it as "a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, whooping cough may eventually turn more serious, particularly in infants." While many people receive a whooping cough vaccine as a child (doses of the DTaP vaccine start at 2 months), the CDC also recommends that all adults have their vaccine updated, since it can wear off over time.
While cases of pertussis in the U.S. have generally declined over the years, some parts of the country are seeing higher rates of whooping cough over previous years. According to Las Vegas Review Journal, around 16,000 whooping cough cases have been reported to the CDC as of September 15, with 13 states, including Nevada, reporting an increase compared to 2012. No deaths resulting from whooping cough have been reported in Nevada.
Nancy A. Wood, an infection-prevention specialist at Canton-Potsdam Hospital in New York, says that the reason whooping cough cases are rising is because some people aren't getting vaccinated. "Older people who haven’t gotten whooping cough vaccination are getting whooping cough and then giving it to the children,” Wood said. Wood also says that some people choose not to vaccinate their kids, which leaves them "vulnerable." Wood didn't specifically mention if the areas in Nevada with higher whooping cough cases have a lower rate of people with the vaccination.
Most new parents do get their children vaccinated for whooping cough, but the numbers of parents who hare having their children opt out of the vaccination are increasing. One reason listed for opting out is the potential side effects. According to the CDC, while rare, possible side effects include "seizure, high fever, serious allergic reaction, long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness and permanent brain damage." Choosing not to vaccinate is fairly controversial, as seen below. Do you think everyone should be vaccinated? Respond below.
@reedbotwright @ 17 a vaccine gave my 3 mo old son whooping cough, 40 days in hospital he almost died its not so black and white 4 me
— Cyd Taylor (@cydt) September 26, 2013
Whooping cough outbreaks not driven by unvaxed kids. 70% of babies get it from adults fully vaxed as kids.Get a Tdap! http://t.co/IaJogyNnBf
— Melinda Wenner Moyer (@lindy2350) September 24, 2013
@winsordobbin oh my GOD, Winsor, it totally doesn't, and NOT vaccinating causes ACTUAL PEOPLE to get things like whooping cough.
— John Walton (@thatjohn) June 17, 2013
Symptoms of Whooping Cough
While whooping cough is relatively rare, it's helpful to know the signs of symptoms of the illness, which the Mayo Clinic provides.
Once you become infected with whooping cough, it can take one to three weeks for signs and symptoms to appear. They're usually mild at first and resemble those of a common cold:
Red, watery eyes
A mild fever
After a week or two, signs and symptoms worsen. Thick mucus accumulates inside your airways, causing uncontrollable coughing. Severe and prolonged coughing attacks may:
Result in a red or blue face
Cause extreme fatigue
End with a high-pitched "whoop" sound during the next breath of air
Image via YouTube