July Fail

Whooping Cough on the Rise:

Get Vaccinated Now!

State medical officials are urging the public not to ignore a recent warning that the country is headed for its worst year for whooping cough in more than 50 years, according to this article in the Arizona Republic.

Cases in Arizona have been on the rise since 2007, and a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that nearly 18,000 cases have been reported nationwide so far this year, more than twice the number at this time last year.

Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health told Fox 10 news that adults need to get the vaccine every 10 years, not only for themselves, but to protect infants who are too young to be immunized.

Infants like Natalie Norton’s son Gavin who contracted whooping cough in 2010. He was too young to get the vaccine that would have protected him.

“One day there was a cough and it seemed suspicious so I took him into the doctor. Within ten days he was gone. It was a very rapid decline, it was a fierce, fierce disease.” Norton says Gavin’s decline was quick and terrible. She watched her 7-week-old son die.

Norton, who now lives in San Tan Valley, is spreading awareness about a vaccine for families with infants in the house according to ABC 15. She is encouraging anyone who is around babies to get the Tdap booster vaccine. She also said parents need to advocate for testing if they think their child may have whooping cough.

This year nine children have died so far nationwide, including an infant from Maricopa County in April. Teenagers and adults, especially pregnant women and those who spend time around children, should get a booster shot as soon as possible, officials said.

CDC officials said the most effective way to prevent whooping cough, or pertussis, is through vaccination with DTaP for infants and children and with the Tdap formula for preteens, teens and adults. Both protect against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria. Protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time.

An infant’s small airway gets plugged with mucus, and the baby fights to catch his or her breath, said Dr. Karen Lewis, medical director at the Arizona Immunization Program Office.

It’s usually a family member that gives pertussis to the infant. The symptoms of whooping cough for an adult can begin with feelings of a mild cold, Lewis said. The first week, there might be a slight catch in the throat.

Beth Mulcahy, the state director of program services and public affairs for the March of Dimes, said her organization is spreading the word that pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease that’s “making a comeback.”

In Arizona, the number of reported cases went from 169 in 2007 to 693 in 2011. And so far this year, there have been 363, not including 170 suspected cases.

Get vaccinated! If you are vaccinated get a booster shot!

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