Whooping cough concerns rise

Whooping cough concerns rise (Image 1)

Tennessee health officials say the number of children diagnosed with the whooping cough rises every year.

In Texas, two babies have died and health officials there say whooping cough has reached epidemic proportions.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a bacterial infection that often begins with cold-like symptoms and a mild cough, followed a week or two later by severe coughing that can last for several weeks.

Whopping cough is very contagious and can easily be transferred in school classrooms.

“Kids who have whooping cough don't start to feel better, but start to feel worse,” Dr. Joseph Gigante said. “And what will happen is they develop these runs of coughing. So they'll cough and cough and cough and cough. We can treat whooping coughs with antibiotics, but quite frankly it doesn't do a whole lot in regard of symptoms.”

Doctors say the best way to prevent a child from contracting the illness is to be immunized and keep hands clean by using soap and water or hand sanitizer.

Last year, more than 41,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Through August, the State Health Department reported 139 cases of whooping cough in Tennessee, which is up slightly from 2012.

Infants had the highest rate, followed by children ages seven to 10.

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