LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville Metro health officials said the number of whooping cough cases more than doubled in 2018, and are spiking right now.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease.
In 2018 in Louisville, there were 62 whooping cough cases -- with 16 of those in just November and December. In 2017, there were 27 cases the entire year, health officials said.
The illness can be more severe for infants and young children. Babies may not have a cough, but could have trouble breathing and even turn blue. Health officials said about 50 percent of infants younger than one-year-old who get whooping cough must be hospitalized for treatment.
That’s why health officials urge parents, grandparents, caretakers and brothers and sisters of young children to be vaccinated against whooping cough.
“Even if parents, grandparents and caregivers have been immunized against whooping cough as children, immunity can wear off over time,” Dr. Lori Caloia, medical director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, said in a press release. “Parents, grandparents and care givers can then infect young children.”
Those who have already been vaccinated should receive a booster shot, Caloia said. The vaccinations protect against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria.
Health officials urge anyone with a cough lasting more than two weeks to go to the doctor and get tested for whooping cough. Parents should also ensure their children are up-to-date on their immunizations, officials said.
Families without health insurance can call the Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness at 502-574-6520.