published Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Whooping cough cases rise in Hamilton County

  • photo
    Nurse Susan Peel gives a whooping cough vaccination to a student at Inderkum High School, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011, in Sacramento, Calif. The whooping cough vaccine given to babies and toddlers loses much of its effectiveness after just three years _ a lot faster than doctors believed _ and that could help explain a recent series of outbreaks in the U.S. among children who were fully vaccinated, a study suggests. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Do you plan to get vaccinated against whooping cough?

Whooping cough in Hamilton County has increased this year, with 21 confirmed cases, according to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department.

The increase reflects a trend across the country, health department officials said today in a news release. Sixteen of the 21 cases have been in children younger than 6 years old, the release said.

According to the health department, the first symptoms of whooping cough — known as pertussis — are similar to a cold: sneezing, runny nose, possibly a low-grade fever and a cough. Although a cough can be present with other respiratory illnesses, coughs with the following characteristics may indicate pertussis:

* A severe cough that occurs in sudden, uncontrollable bursts where one cough follows the next without a break for breath;

* A high-pitched whooping sound when breathing in after a coughing episode; more common in children, less common in infants and adults;

* Vomiting during or after a coughing spell;

* The person's face or lips may look blue from lack of oxygen.

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