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Ed Yeates ReportingState Health uses the stats on whooping cough as a barometer of what could be a much larger caseload, and the numbers right now are double what they should be.
Pertusis, also known as whooping cough, is generally not serious for adults or older children. But their persistent coughing may pass the bacterial illness on to very young children within their own family circle where it can be serious.
Nicole Stone, Epidemiologist, State Health Dept.: “We are concerned about pneumonia, sometimes encephalitis. And in children under a month, the death rate is about one percent.”
Justic Alvey, M.D., Pediatrician: "Two or three percent of them will end up encephalopathy, which can cause long term developmental disorders."
One little girl at Wee Care Pediatrics came in today with a persistent cough. Fortunately it's not pertusis. But what her parents did is exactly what State Health is recommending. The advice: if anybody in the family, whether an adult or a child, has had a persistent cough two weeks or more, even if they haven't really been sick, have it checked out and treated.
Children who have not had their third or fourth dose of the pertusis vaccine in the required DTP immunization package are especially vulnerable. And it often becomes adults or teens who pick up the bug and pass it on.
Nicole Stone, Epidemiologist, State Health Dept.: "Your immunity to the disease wears off over time. So when you are a teenager or an adult, even if you had the immunization, you may well be susceptible to getting pertusis."