Whooping cough cases on rise in Metro AtlantaBy NICHOLE GOLDEN
Whooping cough is a disease named for the sound childhood victims make when they gasp to catch a breath.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has increased in the eight-county metropolitan Atlanta area of Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties. As of July 28, 95 cases of whooping cough had been reported, compared to 51 cases during the same period in 2011.
The increase is similar to national trends, as the U.S. appears to be headed for its worst year for whooping cough in more than five decades. Nearly 18,000 cases have been reported nationally so far — more than twice the number seen last year.
According to Hayla Hall Folden of the local District IV Health Services, there have been "positive labs" for pertussis in the local district this year. These positive lab tests for the disease are being reported by private physicians as required by law. District IV Health Services is the Georgia Public Health district covering Coweta, Carroll, Fayette and other surrounding counties. An exact number of whooping cough cases has not been reported.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory illness spread by coughing and sneezing. It affects people of all ages, but is most serious in infants, especially those too young to be vaccinated or who aren’t fully protected. Whooping cough brings cold-like symptoms followed by a long, severe cough that can last for weeks or months. The "whoop" sound when coughing is not always present. Adolescents and adults often get a much milder case of whooping cough and may not realize they have the disease, but they can still spread it.
“This disease can be very serious for young babies, who often get whooping cough from adults and other family members. Most infected infants must be hospitalized,” said J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., state director of health protection.
Whooping cough vaccines are recommended for all children and adults, as the shots children receive wear off over the years. Everyone age 11 and older should get a whooping cough booster, called Tdap.
"For most people with insurance the cost is less than $15," said Alice Jackson, nurse manager of the Coweta County Health Department.
It’s especially important for those in close contact with babies younger than 12 months to be up to date on the vaccine. This includes parents, siblings, grandparents, healthcare providers and child care providers.
For more information on the pertussis vaccine, or to make an appointment to receive the shot from the health department, call 770-254-7400. The health department is at 70 Hospital Road in Newnan.
Editor's note: Here's what whooping cough often sounds like, provided by the Utah Board of Epidemiology at: http://tinyurl.com/btskus