A reason to wash hands often as contagious illnesses spread

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- A few highly contagious illnesses are spreading through Kentuckiana this week, and parents especially should be on alert. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, can lead to serious complications in infants not fully vaccinated.

At Norton Community Medical Associates in Clarksville, Dr. Jill Howell-Berg has tested a few positive infants and older children over the past few weeks. She says pertussis starts with cold-like symptoms and progresses to a forceful series of coughs. Sometimes the coughs are so strong, they can cause the child to vomit.

Pertussis must be treated with an antibiotic, but the cough can last for several weeks. Anyone living with the child will also need treatment.

In Shelbyville, Jewish Physician Group's Dr. Meredith Kehrer is treating Infectious Mononucleosis. Symptoms include sore throat, fever, upper respiratory infection-type symptoms and stomach pain.

Dr. Kehrer says there is no treatment specific for Mono, but patients can treat the symptoms with anti-inflammatory medications and sore throat lozenges. Mono can cause the liver and spleen to enlarge, so it's important to avoid contact sports.

Finally, Strep Throat is once again making the rounds in the area. UofL Pediatrics Dr. Judy Theriot says the throat will be sore, red and possibly have areas of while pus on the tonsils. The tongue may be bright red too and look like a strawberry. Also watch out for fever, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, headache, belly ache, vomiting and a rash. The child may have only some of the symptoms.

Strep is treated with an antibiotic and Dr. Theriot warns that if it's left untreated, the bacteria can attack other parts of the body like the heart or kidneys. Also remember to throw out the toothbrush after treatment, which can cause re-infection.