Three babies sickened by whooping cough in the past couple of weeks

Three babies sickened by whooping cough in the past couple of weeks

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's an illness you might think sounds old-fashioned, but it's hitting Louisville babies right now. Three cases of whooping cough have been reported in infants under 6 months old in the past couple of weeks. Health officials call this very unusual.

It's also very preventable, but you have to have your baby vaccinated for whooping cough - or pertussis - on schedule.

"In adults if you get it, you just get it, you just get a bad cough for a really long time. It's dangerous in kids, especially under a year. About 50 percent of them can end up in the ICU," said Dr. Sarah Moyer, Interim Director of Louisville Metro Health and Wellness.

Moyer says the three babies with whooping cough in the last couple of weeks are not the result of anti-vaccine parents.

"All the moms of these kids, I believe, wanted to have their kids vaccinated and different circumstances just caused them to not be, whether it was missed doctors appointments or being sick," Moyer said.

Staying on schedule is crucial, Moyer says, because the vaccine has changed.

"It's not working quite as well so it's more important to stay up to date on the booster," she said.

Babies should get the DTaP vaccine at 2, 4 and 6 months. Boosters come at ages 15 to 18 months, and again at 4 to 6 years old.

All parents, family members or caretakers of children should also get a Tdap vaccine, the one for adolescents or adults, because it can wear off over time.

"We recommend all pregnant women in their last trimester of pregnancy get a booster of the pertussis, and that's in every pregnancy," Moyer said. "So if you got it two years ago, you can still get it again."

Moyer says there has been an increase in the number of whooping cough cases in school-aged children, so parents should stay up to date on boosters and teachers need to get the shot as well.

Jefferson County has had 22 cases of pertussis this year, far ahead of our surrounding counties, which only have a few each. Spencer County, by comparison, has had none.

For more information on pertussis vaccination visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here and here.

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