Doctors report slight increase in whooping cough patients

By Elizabeth Gentle - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF)- Whooping cough has claimed nearly a dozen lives in California and officials are calling it the worst outbreak in 60 years. Now doctors here say the sickness is beginning to show up in young children. 

Whooping cough or Pertussis is an infection of the respiratory system and it's highly contagious.

"Patients will have-- as we say in our office-- cough until they vomit," said Dr. Tim Howard.

Pertussis can be spread when a person sneezes or coughs.  Children are hit the hardest and usually contract the sickness from adults.

Kim Wilson has a son.  She said she doesn't know much about whooping cough, but intends to do her research.

"I have a 4-year-old with asthma, and I'm really concerned about him getting it and having an asthma flair up along with it," said Wilson.

Dr. Howard says whooping cough is typically seen more in the fall and winter when children and adults stay in doors.

"I just really want to put them in a bubble and keep them from catching it. We go to church and school, and it will be real easy for them to catch something like that," said Wilson.

Dr. Howard says don't be too alarmed. Whooping cough is preventable. Children from two months to six years need to be vaccinated, and parents will need a booster shot.

"I actually was vaccinated when I had my eight-month-old," said Wilson.  "So I think I'm safe on that end, but I'm going to talk to my husband about it as well."
Initial symptoms of whooping cough are very similar to a cold, but a week or two later a violent cough develops. Infected people are most contagious during the earliest stages of illness, which is the first couple of weeks after the cough begins.

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