Nurse Susan Peel gives a whooping cough vaccination to a student at Inderkum High School, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011, in Sacramento, Calif. The whooping cough vaccine given to babies and toddlers loses much of its effectiveness after just three years _ a lot faster than doctors believed _ and that could help explain a recent series of outbreaks in the U.S. among children who were fully vaccinated, a study suggests. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Whooping cough in Hamilton County has increased this year, with 21 confirmed cases, according to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department.
The increase reflects a trend across the country, health department officials said today in a news release. Sixteen of the 21 cases have been in children younger than 6 years old, the release said.
According to the health department, the first symptoms of whooping cough — known as pertussis — are similar to a cold: sneezing, runny nose, possibly a low-grade fever and a cough. Although a cough can be present with other respiratory illnesses, coughs with the following characteristics may indicate pertussis:
* A severe cough that occurs in sudden, uncontrollable bursts where one cough follows the next without a break for breath;
* A high-pitched whooping sound when breathing in after a coughing episode; more common in children, less common in infants and adults;
* Vomiting during or after a coughing spell;
* The person's face or lips may look blue from lack of oxygen.