Indiana facing largest whooping cough outbreak in 50 years

The Indiana State Department of Health has reported 500 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, which have led to the death of two infants and is the largest outbreak of the bacterial infection in the state since 1959.

While pertussis is a serious condition for infants under the age of one who can experience complications like seizures, pneumonia and death, pertussis can be transmitted from undiagnosed older children and adults to infants and young children, reports Pertussis typically has milder symptoms for those over the age of one.

“I find this outbreak particularly concerning because pertussis can be prevented with a vaccine,” State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin said, according to “Children and adults, alike, are at risk for life-threatening infections from pertussis, but there is a safe and effective vaccine. The key to the success of the pertussis vaccine is for everyone to be vaccinated.”

To fully prevent the spread of pertussis, children and adults should be up-to-date on all immunizations, reports. The pertussis vaccine and other childhood immunizations are free for children who are underinsured, uninsured or eligible for Medicaid.

Indiana is not alone in facing hirer rates of whooping cough infections. Public Health officials in California have announced that they are in the middle of their worst outbreak in 50 years, which has been responsible for the deaths of 10 infants to date.