Indiana reports largest whooping cough outbreak in 50 years

Both federal and Indiana state health officials are warning about the spread of highly contagious and potentially deadly whooping cough, also known as pertussis, which has begun to make a comeback throughout the United States.

The recent spread of pertussis is the largest outbreak in the state of Indiana since 1959, the Indy Channel reports. The symptoms of the disease begin like a cold but it quickly changes into the trademark cough with a whooping sound.

“Both were infants under the age of two months,” Angela Cierzniewski of the Indiana Department of Health, said, according to The Indy Channel. “The vaccine isn’t recommended until a child is 2 months old, and these children were too young to be vaccinated.”

In the past year, there were 720 cases in Indiana along and two deaths in infants below the age of two months old, according to The Indy Channel.

“You cough and cough and cough until there’s no more air in your lungs, which is where the whoop noise comes in,” Cierzniewski said, The Indy Channel reports. “Typically, the whoop is only heard in small children.”

Younger children are the most vulnerable to the more serious complications from the disease, which can include fits that lead to vomiting, ruptured blood vessels in the eyes and broken ribs.

The whooping cough vaccine’s effectiveness fades as people age. Health officials recommend that moms, dads and healthcare workers get the vaccine again.

“What happens is us adults get it again and spread it to the young infants,” Dr. John Christiansen, director of the Pediatric Infectious unit at Riley Hospital for Children, said, according to The Indy Channel. “That’s why it’s important to vaccinate adolescence and adults. We protect the babies. We create a cocoon of protection all around them.”