Public Health warns of increased whooping cough cases in Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Department of Public Health’s Immunization Division is warning people that pertussis cases are significantly higher in Alabama this year compared to last year.

According to immunization data, in 2016 there were 113 reported cases of pertussis and in 2017 there are 151 reported cases thus far.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Pertussis begins with symptoms such as a runny nose, low-grade fever, and cough. After a week or two of these symptoms, pertussis progresses to violent coughing, making it difficult for those infected to breathe. After fits of many coughs, people with the illness often need to take deep breaths which result in a “whooping” sound.

“Alabama is not alone in the growth of pertussis cases. Nationwide we have seen an increase in pertussis cases, and while there are several factors that could contribute to this, one generally accepted reason from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is that although the pertussis vaccine is effective, it tends to decrease in immunity over time,” said Dr. Karen Landers, Assistant State Health Officer. “That’s why it’s so important that we educate Alabamians on this disease and let them know how they can prevent and treat it.”

Pertussis can affect people of all ages and can be deadly for babies less than a year old.

For more information on signs and symptoms of pertussis, or vaccination please visit http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/immunization and the division’s Facebook page Alabama Immunization Info at www.facebook.com/AlabamaImmunizationInfo.