During a press briefing, authorities with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the nation is on track for record high pertussis rates this year. Infants are particularly at risk.
Already this year, 18,000 cases of pertussis have been reported, federal health officials said.
“That’s more than twice as many as we had at the same time last year,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases for the CDC. “In fact, it’s more than we had in each of the past five years.”
Pertussis is commonly called whooping cough because it causes uncontrollable coughing fits that can leave a patient gasping for air. Sometimes they will make a “whooping” sound when they are trying to breathe after coughing.
More than half of infants under 1 year of age who become infected need to be hospitalized. Nine babies have died so far this year, CDC officials said.
Health authorities especially recommend pregnant women get vaccinated. Infants often get pertussis from someone in their family or living in their home.
Children who are not vaccinated are at eight times higher risk of getting pertussis compared to children who are fully vaccinated. Those who are vaccinated can still get pertussis but the case will be milder.
The best way to prevent pertussis is through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine is known as DTaP. Adolescents and adults receive a booster vaccine called Tdap. Both of them provide protection against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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