AL health department warns of increase in whooping cough

(WTVM) – The Alabama Department of Public Health's Immunization Division is warning citizens of an increase in whooping cough.

Immunization data reveals an increase from 113 reported cases in 2015 to 151 reported cases thus far in 2017.

Pertussis cases, also known as whooping cough, has occurred statewide in 2017, including multiple outbreaks in Calhoun and Chamber Counties.

It is a highly contagious respiratory notifiable disease in Alabama.

Whooping cough begins with symptoms such as a runny nose, low-grade fever, and cough. After a week or two of the illness, pertussis progresses to violent coughing, making it difficult for those infected to breathe.

After fits of many coughs, people with the illness often need to take deep breaths which result in a "whooping" sound.

"Alabama is not alone in the growth of pertussis cases. Nationwide we have seen an increase in pertussis cases, and while there are several factors that could contribute to this, one generally accepted reason from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is that although the pertussis vaccine is effective, it tends to decrease in immunity over time," said Dr. Karen Landers, Assistant State Health Officer.

According to the CDC, the best way to protect against pertussis is by getting vaccinated. Pregnant women should also be vaccinated with Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) during each pregnancy as a way to protect infants.

For more information on signs and symptoms click here.

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