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Sep 20, 2013 10:08 PM by John Patrick

Whooping cough cases climb in Pima County

TUCSON - Whooping cough cases are on the rise across Pima County.

Pima County has reported 55 cases of pertussis or whooping cough so far this year. This number is up from the 46 cases that were reported in all of 2012.

The Pima County Health Department says this is not an outbreak or epidemic but other states like Texas are on pace to see some of the most cases reported in half a century. However, according to Dr. Sean Elliott with the University of Arizona Medical Center we may be in for an outbreak here in southern Arizona soon.

Dr. Elliott says, "Pertussis is one of those cyclical infections we see every three to four years and we are about three years out from our last cycle in Pima County. So we're about due for one."

Pertussis is highly infectious with symptoms similar to an upper respiratory infection including cough, cold congestion and fever. It is especially dangerous for those with compromised immune systems, the very young and elderly.

With whooping cough cases already up over 50 percent from Pima County's five year average it is important to prevent the disease by keeping up with vaccinations. This applies not only to children but adults as well.

"For families with small children at home everybody should get vaccinated. We call that cocooning, surrounding the baby with vaccinated people. That's the only way to save those babies form getting whooping cough and possibly dying," explains Dr. Elliott.

Pertussis can occur anytime of the year, however, there is generally a peak from July through October. Doctors say with vaccination and outbreak can prevented.

For more information visit the Arizona Department of Health Services here.

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