State Health Officials Say Whooping Cough Can Kill

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The state health department is issuing a warning about pertussis. That's the illness we commonly refer to as whooping cough.

Spokesperson Kim Deti said the killer disease had been kept under control for decades, until a resurgence in recent years; and just three years ago, claimed the lives of 10 babies in California.

She went on to say that babies are the most vulnerable because the vaccination series is not administered until a child is 6-months-old. And, if a baby gets sick with whooping cough, it could be deadly, and most usually means hospitalization.

It's a tough illness to recognize, she said, because so many times pertussis starts with a mild cough that accompanies a cold. So what you need to watch for, she said, or possibly listen for, in this case, is a rapid, violent cough, that many times creates a unique “whooping” sound.

And though the disease is not prevalent in Wyoming, the number of cases has quadrupled in the past four years, from 14 to 63, with most of this years reports coming in from the central and southwestern parts of the state. So, again, the health department spokeswoman said, being vaccinated is the best defense, not only for children, but their caretakers, too, and women who are pregnant.

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