Whooping cough on the rise | VailDaily.com

Whooping cough on the rise

Donna Gray

GLENWOOD SPRINGS -A childhood disease that once was the No. 1 killer of infants is on the rise in Colorado once more.Whooping cough – also known as pertussis, for the bacteria that causes the severe respiratory disease, Bordetella pertussis – is making a comeback among adolescents. The Garfield County Public Health department is urging parents to have their teenagers vaccinated, and recommending adults get a shot as well.In 2005, there were 1,416 cases reported in Colorado, a 17 percent increase over 2004, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.This month, 75 cases have been reported in the state. Garfield County has confirmed 18 cases since August 2004, said Phylis Jaeger, county public health nurse. The state health department reported three cases of whooping cough in the county this month.Whooping cough starts out like a cold, Jaeger said, and leads to a racking cough in which people struggle for breath, often making a whooping sound as they suck in air.According to the Center for Disease Control Web site, before whooping cough vaccine was introduced in the United States in the mid-1940s, it was a major cause of childhood illness and infant death. Cases of pertussis dropped by 90 percent after vaccination programs were introduced.Although most American children are vaccinated against pertussis with a shot called DTP – for diptheria, tetanus and pertussis – whooping cough appears in epidemic levels every three to five years. The CDC said since the early 1980s, the reported incidence of pertussis has increased, especially among adolescents and young adults.”We’re probably at a 50-year high,” Jaeger said.Children are usually vaccinated when they are 1 month old, and at 2 months, 6 months and 1 1/2, and when they first begin school. Immunity begins to wane after 5 years, Jaeger said.”Even though a child is immunized against pertussis, they can still contract the disease,” Jaeger said. “It is deadly for very young children.”Pertussis can be treated with antibiotics. Because it is highly contagious, when one person in a family or a group of co-workers gets the disease, everyone in close contact must take a five-day course of antibiotics to prevent it from spreading, Jaeger said.After five days of antibiotics, people are no longer contagious although the cough may persist.Vail, Colorado

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