Whooping Cough On The Rise In New York City, Poses Threat To Infants


whooping-coughThere’s been a three-fold increase in whooping cough cases in the city, and officials are urging anyone who cares for a baby to get vaccinated.

No one has died in the latest outbreak, but whooping cough – a violent, chronic cough also known as pertussis – can be extremely dangerous to infants.

Nearly all the babies under 6 months old who fell ill with the highly contagious disease between August and November had to be hospitalized.

“Pertussis doesn’t kill adults. It kills little kids,” said Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, chairman of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Research Center at The Brooklyn Hospital Center.

Some other disease outbreaks – like measles – have been fueled by parents refusing to get their children inoculated out of the debunked fear the shots cause autism.

But immunization rates for whooping cough have not fallen, and Bromberg said the uptick in cases is partly due to the short life of the vaccine.

Studies show it can wear off within a decade, so some people who were immunized as children are no longer protected in adolescence or adulthood.

They get infected with pertussis and pass it on to young children who have not yet gotten all their shots – administered at two months, four months, six months and a year.

An alert issued last month by the Health Department said there were 126 reported cases between August and November, compared to 45 in the same period the previous year.

A quarter of patients were younger than 1 and another quarter were older than 20.

There were cases in every borough, some clustered in schools or families. The most recent spike was noted on Staten Island, officials said.

Nationally, whooping cough cases increase every three or four years. In 2010, there was a huge outbreak in California that sickened 9,100 people and killed 10 babies.

City health officials think the publicity from that raised awareness of whooping cough symptoms among health-care workers – and helped boost reporting.

New testing methods have also made diagnosis faster and easier, which could have pushed up the numbers, Bromberg said.

Nevertheless, doctors say all children, health-care workers and adults who are around babies should make sure they are vaccinated.

Whooping cough often starts as a generic respiratory illness that progresses to a severe cough. The fits can be so bad they make children vomit, and they are sometimes accompanied by a sharp intake of breath with a “whoop” sound.

Untreated patients can be infectious for up to a month, but a course of antibiotics can dramatically reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

{NY Daily News/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. That was a quite stupid and out of place comment for such a serious subject.
    SERVICE ALERT–the Illegal immigrants that are cleaning your houses carry diseases such as whooping cough and tuberculosis! Keep them away from your children, especially the infants, and especially the infants who are not vaccinated! And for those of you who are against vaccines, stop believing in your shtussim and get your kids vaccinated! These diseases are for real–if you don’t believe me, go to the hospitals and look at infants with whooping cough fighting for every breath!

  2. to # 2
    I was vaccinated and still got whopping cough as a child. I am not saying not to vaccinate your child, you still have to be careful but sometimes it is out of your control.