Ohio county declares whooping cough outbreak

Health officials in Ohio have declared a whooping cough outbreak in Franklin County and are now encouraging at-risk residents to get a booster shot.

Dr. Mysheika LeMaile-Williams, the Columbus city medical director, told that the number of clusters around the county of reported cases has been steadily increasing. To date, 410 cases of whooping cough have been reported this year in Columbus and Franklin County. Of those, 258 cases have been lab confirmed, LeMaile-Williams said.

Medical officials urge those who have regular contact with infants to get a booster shot to protect against the bacterial infection. Children under six months old are particularly vulnerable to the disease because they have undeveloped immune systems, health officials told

Whooping cough is spread by coughing. Health officials recommend people use the sleeve of their clothes, elbow, shoulder or a tissue to cover their mouths when coughing. Officials also recommend washing hands often. Alcohol-based hand cleaners with at least 60 percent alcohol also work and can be used as an alternative if hand washing is not available.

Whooping cough usually begins with cold-like symptoms and often proceeds to a severe constant cough that ends with a “whoop” sound. Older children, teens and adults may not have the “whoop”. Young infants are particularly vulnerable and may require hospitalization.