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Whooping Cough Cases on Rise in Northern Kentucky

Northern Kentucky is experiencing an increase in reported cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis. The majority of recent cases have been seen in school-aged youth, but it can affect individuals of any age.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department announced the rise on Wednesday.

During 2019, there were 14 confirmed cases in Northern Kentucky.

At first, whooping cough may appear to be a common cold, with symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and a mild cough, the health department said in a news release. Within a couple of weeks, however, a persistent cough develops, occurring in explosive bursts, and sometimes ending with a high-pitched “whoop” and vomiting.

The illness can last for four to six weeks.

Whooping cough is most concerning for infants under age 1, who are at increased risk of severe illness and even death.

“Vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of whooping cough," said Dr. Lynne Saddler, district director of health for the Northern Kentucky Health Department. "Vaccination can not only protect you, but also those around you that may be vulnerable to illness, particularly infants who are not yet old enough to be vaccinated.” 

Parents of young children should make sure that their child has been vaccinated with DTaP, which includes protection against tetanus and diphtheria as well. It is usually given in five doses between two months and seven years of age. 

Pregnant women and anyone who is going to be around infants should get vaccinated to protect the infant, the health department said, adding that protection fades over time, so questions to health providers about booster vaccines would be appropriate. 

Individuals who have a cough lasting more than two weeks and/or one that progressively gets worse are advised to contact their health care provider for evaluation. They should avoid contact with others, especially infants, young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. If you live with someone who has been diagnosed with whooping cough, or have had prolonged close contact, contact your health care provider as well. 

-Staff report