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Health Officials Warn to Be Wary of Whooping Cough

Health Officials Warn to Be Wary of Whooping Cough

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Coco Warner ReportingWe've being hearing a lot about the flu, but it's another illness that has health officials concerned -- whooping cough is at a 40 year high.

Salt Lake Valley Health clinics are now offering flu vaccines to the general public. But after you get your flu shot, you may want to ask about pertussis, or whooping cough.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling this year's outbreak of whooping cough the worst in 40 years. This, along with lingering concerns about flu season, is keeping Salt Lake Valley health clinics very busy.

Steve Latimer: “Actually we waited about an hour and a half.”
Reporter: “But worth it?”
Steve Latimer: “Oh I think so. If you’ve ever had the flu, it certainly is.”

The Salt Lake Valley Health Department has 1000 doses of the flu vaccine. Of that the city clinic gets 250, which should disappear in the next few days. Even though the health department hasn't seen a big surge in the number of flu cases so far, remember that flu season doesn't peak until January or February, so it's always a good idea to get your flu shot.

Ilene Risk, S.L. County Epidemiologist: "Even up to December and into the first weekend of December, it's not too late to get vaccinated."

Pertussis is a more immediate concern. Salt Lake County has already had to deal with three or four outbreaks. And there is no vaccination against the disease for anyone older than seven.

Ilene Risk: "Pertussis can start out similar to a cold for a couple of weeks, but it progresses to a very severe cough."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends calling your pediatrician if your child is very young and hasn't been fully immunized, the cough becomes severe and frequent or lips and fingertips become dark or blue, or if your child becomes exhausted after coughing, eats poorly or vomits after coughing.

Ilene Risk: "Often times with adults, their symptoms aren't that severe, so they have a cough, it's irritating and unfortunately they can spread it to young children who get really sick."

County recommendations to help prevent further outbreaks include, if you're sick, stay away from other people; and if you're well, stay away from crowds, wash your hands frequently and use a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

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