Whooping Cough cases in Bucks Co.

January 25, 2008 7:39:54 AM PST
Bucks County health officials are notifying doctors' offices and schools to be on alert for children showing signs of whooping cough.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, can affect anyone, but recent cases in central Bucks County have primarily been in third to fith graders. Infants and young children are vaccinated against pertussis with the DTap vaccine. But its protection wanes over time.

The contagious bacterial disease causes cold-like symptoms in its early stage, with a cough that gets progressively worse. Pertussis coughs can become so severe it is difficult to breathe, sleep or eat. Ribs can even break from the force of coughing. Someone with pertussis can have intermittent coughing spasm for weeks.

While it may not be life-threatening in adolescents, teenagers and pre-teens often come in contact with younger children who are at a much higher risk of developing dangerous cases, with potentially fatal complications.

Anyone with a cough lasting 7 days or more, a fitful cough, or one that disturbs sleep should call a doctor regarding potential testing.

Doctors should report any diagnosed cases to the Bucks County Health Department.