Tennessee reports rise in whooping cough cases

Doctors in Tennessee have begun reporting an increase in whooping cough as the disease continues to make its comeback nationwide.

To date, 126 cases of whooping cough have been reported in Tennessee, Dr. Kelly Moore, medical director for the state's Immunization Program, told

"This is almost identical to this time last year when we had reported 127 cases,” Moore told “But we know that there have been actually many more cases than just those 126. Most people who are adults or teenagers with pertussis don’t know that’s what they have, and are never diagnosed. It’s definitely the most common vaccine-preventable disease of childhood other than the flu that we see in Tennessee."

Cases are on the rise state-wide, Moore said, but, so far, a dramatic increase has not been seen.

“Every year we estimate a million or more people are actually infected with pertussis, and the vast majority of those people are never officially diagnosed,” Moore told

Whooping cough may lead to pneumonia, brain damage and even death. This year, eight infants in California have died as a result of whooping cough.

“These babies are too young to have been fully protected by their infant vaccination,” Moore told “And if they get pertussis it can actually cause them to stop breathing and die from suffocation because they can’t catch their breath.”