Dramatic increase of Whooping Cough in NKY

FORT MITCHELL, KY (FOX19) - The Northern Kentucky Health Department is asking parents to be on the lookout for cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, which can be severe for infants under age 1. 

Right now 20 cases of perstussis have be reported in Northern Kentucky since January.  That puts the region on the pace to have nearly 100 cases this year.  During the past decade the region only averaged 25 cases per year.  More than half of the reports this year where for children 1 year old or younger.

"The resurgence of cases may be directly related to the diminishing effectiveness of the vaccine over time as an individual ages," said Steven R. Katkowsky, M.D., District Director of Health. "The vaccine's effectiveness is lower in adults and teens, meaning the bacteria can circulate in the community and expose infants. We recommend that anyone age 11 to 64 be vaccinated with the Tdap booster shot, which will provide renewed protection against whooping cough. Parents, grandparents and caregivers for children under age 1 are strongly encouraged to get their booster shot."

Parents of young children should make sure that their child has been vaccinated for whooping cough, typically given in a combination shot called DTaP, which includes vaccine for tetanus and diphtheria as well. The vaccine is usually given in four doses, with the first dose at eight weeks of age and the last at 15 to 18 months of age.

The early symptoms of whooping cough include: runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and a mild cough. After a week or two, a persistent cough develops which occurs in explosive bursts, sometimes ending with a high-pitched whoop and vomiting.