RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Cases of whooping cough are on the rise in Virginia. As of June 30, State Health Officials say there were 189 cases and seven outbreaks reported statewide. That's more than double the 87 cases during the same time period last year.
The spike in whooping cough cases is likely to cause of two main factors. One, adults needing to be vaccinated or re-vaccinated if they got the immunization as a child, and two, parents not getting their children vaccinated.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a disease of the nose and throat that usually mimics a cold at first, and then gets much worse if untreated. It's prevented through the TDAP vaccine. It's most common and most dangerous in infants, but Virginia Health Officials say adults are also getting it.
"We feel that perhaps that protection wanes," said Dr. Parham Jaberi, Director of the Chesterfield Health District. "It becomes decreased as one ages. We are encouraging adults who have not been vaccinated recently against pertussis to go ahead and get this vaccine."
It takes a series of vaccines for a child to become immune.
"Because there are so many components to this particular vaccine, we need to be vigilant about it as healthcare providers, parents and the health department to ensure everyone is protected," he said.
There have been seven outbreaks in Virginia this year -- the biggest in Floyd County. Locally, Chesterfield has seen the most with six cases this year compared to three last year. Both Henrico and Richmond have reported five cases each. Last year, Henrico only saw one case and Richmond none.
"It starts with cough, runny nose, feeling achy, feeling tired," Dr. Jaberi said.
Whooping cough is often mistaken for flu and not treated a quickly as it needs to be. If a person doesn't take antibiotics right away, whooping cough can become severe and last more than a month.
"You cough so much it's hard to breathe, and then you can hear the child or sometimes adult take that big gasping breath of air and hear that whooping as well," he said.
If you are looking to get a TDAP vaccine and find that your regular healthcare provider doesn't have it in stock, you can always go to a health department. See this link