Whooping Cough Cases Rising in Massachusetts, Vermont
Health officials in Massachusetts and Vermont say cases of Whooping Cough are increasing, following a national trend. Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is highly contagious. The infection usually starts with an irritating cough that worsens to include spasms of coughing, possibly whooping. More than 200 cases have been reported in Vermont this year, making it the largest outbreak since 1997. In Massachusetts, there have been more Whooping Cough cases this year than at this point in 2011. Larry Madoff is the Director of Immunization and Epidemiology for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. He says infants younger than six month are particularly vulnerable to the infection.
"It's an annoying infection in adults and in older children. But in young children, very young children, it's a serious and potentially life-threatening disease. We actually had a fatal case in a young child this year for the first time in many years here in Massachusetts. That's the population we're trying to protect".
Madoff says the best way to protect infants not old enough for vaccination is to inoculate those around the child, such as parents and older siblings. Nationally, more than 18-thousand cases have been reported this year. Officials at the national Centers for Disease Control say this puts 2012 on pace to be the worst year for Whooping Cough in five decades. Expers say they have not yet discovered the reason for the increase.