Whooping cough on the rise in La. - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Whooping cough on the rise in La.

NEW ORLEANS - If you have young children, you may want to make sure they are vaccinated against whooping cough. The number of cases in Louisiana so far this year has surpassed last year's record number of 160.

At a St. Charles Avenue park, children enjoyed themselves on the playground under adult supervision. But around the state, youngsters are falling victim to the highly contagious whooping cough, also known as pertussis.

"Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease. It should have disappeared in the 1970s," said Dr. Brobson Lutz with the Orleans Parish Medical Society.

Nanette McCrossen supervised her two granddaughters, Katie and Sara Wilson, as they played at the park. She said she recently heard about the uptick in whooping cough cases and the need for adults who have contact with infants to be vaccinated.

"I was surprised until recently a family member's daughter is having a baby, and everybody is required if they're within two to three weeks of visiting the child to get the whooping cough vaccine," McCrossen said.

State epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard said Friday there are at least 170 cases statewide and there could be more to come.

"It's mostly children, yes," Ratard said.

He said most cases involve children under the age of 1.

"Because that's when they are not immunized, and that's when an adult is going to come and going to infect them," Ratard said.

"We've got parents that don't immunize and then we've got pregnant women that for whatever reason have not had their adequate immunizations," Lutz said.

The disease is hardest on small children, according to medical experts.

"Expelling all of the air out of their little lungs and then taking a whoop to bring it back in and that's the classic whoop of whooping cough," said Lutz.

He said adults tend not to make the "whooping" sound as much as young children afflicted by the condition.

"It's called the cough of 100 days in adults because you could literally cough for a hundred days," said Lutz.

Ratard said when it comes to whooping cough, it's much easier to diagnose it in adults than children.

"The newer tests make it easy. If you have an adult who has a chronic cough, think about whooping cough and it's easier to diagnose," said Ratard.

As Anna Montgomery held her 8-month-old daughter, Marie, she committed to making sure her children are protected.

"I will make sure that they include that on her next month's [doctor] visit, and then make sure my other two children are vaccinated, as well," Montgomery said.

State health officials said cases have increased over the past decade, but Louisiana's rates remain below the national level.

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