SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2018

Whooping cough on the rise in U.S.

Reports of whooping cough in the United States have reached the highest levels in 50 years according to a University of Michigan poll, due in part to adults who have not received their booster shots.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious bacteria that spreads by infected persons coughing. Whooping cough can affect all ages and is most dangerous in young infants. Younger children under the age of four months are at a higher risk for severe complications and death from whopping cough.

Vaccines are available for whooping cough, and while they are effective in stopping the disease, the problem comes from adults who believe that because they were vaccinated at an early age, they are still immune to the disease and cannot spread it to newborn infants.

"Pertussis is a very preventable disease," Matthew M. Davis, director of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, said. "But many adults may think their childhood vaccinations still are protecting them against pertussis. Findings from this poll show that few adults have received a booster shot within the recommended 10-year time frame and in fact, two-thirds told us they were not aware of their vaccination status."

The same poll that showed people did not know their vaccination status also showed that parents insist their newborns aren't exposed to those who might not be vaccinated for the disease.

"Expectant parents should have a conversation about pertussis vaccine with their family and close friends BEFORE the baby is born, to allow time for them to get their pertussis vaccine up to date," Davis said.