May 14, 2014 7:36 PM by Annie Snead
An increase of kids in our community are getting whooping cough.
News 5's Annie Snead has more on the disease and what doctors say you can do to prevent your child from getting it.
Pertussis - or whooping cough - is an infection in the lungs that causes an awful cough.
Doctors say the rise is directly related to people not getting their children immunized.
It's a violent cough with a distinctive sound.
"We are definitely seeing a rise or an increase in whooping cough," said Dr. Jeremy Ellias, an emergency room physician at Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Ellias says the cough can be severe in some cases, kids even coughing to the point where they vomit.
"It's an awful cough because it is so non responsive to therapy so you can give all kinds of different medications, but they will not change the cough," he said.
In extreme cases, damage to the lungs can be permanent.
Mostly though, it affects a child's quality of life because they spend so long coughing.
Antibiotics within the first two weeks help reduce the duration of the cough and the intensity.
But getting tests back for pertussis takes about a week.
"So you don't want to wait necessarily for that test result to come back before treating because if you wait too long, then antibiotics have no benefit, so often we treat clinically without actually doing the test to see whether they have it," he said.
Dr. Ellias says with our fairly large immigrant population, there's a proportion of people who don't get immunized; and there's folks who just choose not to.
"If the majority of your population gets immunized, then it's more difficult for the disease to be spread, but if people choose not to immunize their children then the disease can be spread more rapidly," he said.
He wants parents to use an objective opinion when choosing whether or not to immunize your child.
"And to try and ignore opinions that are not based on any science," he added.
And while there is always a risk with vaccines and medications - Ellias says the risk of immunizations is much less than the risk of the disease.
People at higher risk include health care workers, pregnant women and the elderly.
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