Whooping cough is on the rise, is greatest threat to infants

Sep 12, 2013

The Wyoming Department of Health has recorded a sharp increase in cases of pertussis – also known as “Whooping Cough”.

The illness has cold-like symptoms, and after a week or two, infected people usually develop a loud, persistent cough and spasms. Sixty-three cases have been reported this year already, four more than in all of 2012.

Health department spokeswoman Kim Deti says pertussis is most dangerous to babies under a year old. More than half need to be hospitalized if they catch whooping cough, and some die.

Cases have been on the rise in recent decades. The Center for Disease Control says that might be because of better testing and reporting, or possibly because of waning immunity.

Kim Deti of the Wyoming Department of Health recommends that people ask their doctors about receiving the TdaP vaccine, especially if they’ll be around babies.

“What experts have found is that more than half of infants under one year of age, if they become ill with Pertussis, more than half of them need to be hospitalized, and there have been cases of deaths,” Deti says.

“Folks who are gonna be around babies should be sure that they’re vaccinated to kind of circle protection around that infant. And they we also suggest that folks who are ill with a disease characterized by coughing avoid spending time with babies.”

Deti says pregnant women should also be vaccinated.