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Number of Whooping Cough Cases on the Rise in Erie County this Summer

Posted at 6:00 AM, Aug 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-03 08:24:52-04

The number of pertussis cases in Erie County are on the rise this summer. It’s more commonly called whooping cough and can be deadly for babies.

The Erie County Commissioner of Health Gale Burstein said 50% of children under the age of 1 the are diagnosed with the infection end up in the hospital. 10% of those babies end up dying.

Samantha Mitchell, of Sloan, had a scare before her youngest daughter turned 1.

Ailah Lewis had a basic cough, but pediatricians diagnosed it as a bacterial infection and sent her home with antibiotics.

“The problem is with newborns is that they’re not fully immunized,” said Burstein. “And, they can’t be because of their age. And also, their airways are very very small.”

Mitchell knew something was wrong when her daughter's fever wouldn't break for over 24 hours. After testing and 5 days in the hospital she finally got some answers. Pertussis. Whooping Cough.

Whooping Cough is a lung infection that’s caused by bacteria. It’s extremely contagious and the symptoms look similar to a cold - they just don’t go away.

While the numbers of diagnoses show an upward trend since may. Burstein says that number could be deceiving.

“We believe that there is pertussis in our community all the time,” she said.

She went on to add that once a case is identified, doctors are reminded to look at symptoms differently in patients and start testing for it. This is why we see a higher numbers of diagnosed cases in clumps.

Burstein says the best way to protect young children is for the mothers to get the immunization during pregnancy. It’s recommended that mothers get this with each pregnancy in order to massively transfer the antibodies to children during labor and delivery.

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