Iowa faces rising whooping cough cases

Iowa is continuing to see an elevated number of pertussis, or whooping cough, cases and doctors there are urging parents and adults in contact with children, especially infants, to be vaccinated.

“We’re treating people left and right,” Dr. Gregory Garvin, a Davenport, Iowa, physician said, according to

Garvin said getting vaccinated is the best thing that can be done to protect a baby from pertussis. Infants are most susceptible to having complications and they are not protected from the disease until after having a series of five shots by the age of five, according to

Pertussis cases in Iowa spiked last year, jumping by almost 66 percent. There were 651 confirmed or probable cases in the state and 27 hospitalizations. In the last month, 22 cases have been reported, but, according to state epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, that number is low, since many cases go unreported.

Quinlisk estimates that 90 percent of adults have no immunity to pertussis, reports. They simply will not realize that they have the infection because they do not have severe symptoms. Adults have larger airways and so are not as dramatically affected by the swelling as children are.

Infected adults continue to work or go to regular activities, spreading the germs by coughing near others, so it is important for everyone to have current vaccinations.

Iowa was the epicenter of a 2004-2005 outbreak of pertussis that was the largest in the last 30 years. This current outbreak is not expected to be as bad, but, Quinlisk told, will continue for several months.