Whooping cough cases climbing in Kentuckiana - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Whooping cough cases climbing in Kentuckiana

Dr. Berg with a patient Dr. Berg with a patient

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville Metro Health Department is urging people to get vaccinated against whooping cough. The United States is on track for the highest number of whooping cough cases in 5 decades. The numbers here in Louisville Metro will soon top the highest here in 5 years.  

Louisville Metro Health Department Director, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said 30 cases are confirmed with more in the pipeline.  It was 2010 when 32 cases were reported.

We know babies are the most vulnerable to the bacteria illness but experts warn it's their caregivers who may be putting them most at risk.  

At Norton Community Health Associates in Clarksville, Pediatrician Dr. Jill Howell-Berg has diagnosed two cases in the past three weeks and is awaiting test confirmation on a third one.

"Several factors may be the cause of why we're seeing more cases" said Dr. Berg, "It's possible that we're just testing more babies, more kids for it. It's also possible the tests are better than they used to be." But what she and Dr. Nesbitt both point to as well is a waning of the vaccine effectiveness.

There's a push underway to get the booster shots. Babies get a series of 5 injections before entering school.  A booster shot is required at 6th grade.  Now there's a push for adults to get booster shots as well.

What's at risk, this bacteria will kill an infant.

"When an adult collapses out in public," said Dr. Nesbitt, "it's their heart, when a child collapses out in public, it's typically their breathing and we know whooping cough or pertussis affects their respiratory system so it makes it very difficult for these children to breath."  

Dr. Berg will admit infants to the hospital for observation because the risk is so serious.

"Many of these children end up in respiratory distress intensive care units and some of them do recover but any insult to the lungs of a small infant can be deadly." Dr. Nesbitt said.

Dr. Berg isn't just talking to parents about the vaccines their child is receiving, "We're suggesting everyone that's a caregiver for an infant less than 1 year of age has a whooping cough booster shot, moms, dads, and grandmas, everybody!"

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