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Whooping Cough Echoes Across America; Ohio is Mostly Spared

PHOTO: Ohio health officials say vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself against pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Courtesy of CDC.

PHOTO: Ohio health officials say vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself against pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Courtesy of CDC.


December 12, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Cases of whooping cough are at a 50-year high in America, but in Ohio, the figure is below the five-year average.

That’s to be expected, says Tessie Pollock, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Health, because pertussis cases are known to fluctuate from year to year.

"Our epidemiologists have indicated that it's kind of cyclical. Some years we'll be higher than others. We'll hit a peak and then go down for a few years. That's kind of reflective of the (levels of) immunity and vaccinations as well, throughout the state."

Ohio has had 828 confirmed cases of pertussis this year, Pollack says, up a bit from last year but down by more than 50 percent from 2010, when nearly 1,900 cases were reported.

The best way to protect against whooping cough is a vaccination, Pollack says. Children are most at risk, but those who spend a lot of time around youngsters should also make sure they're protected.

"Especially those that are caregivers to infants. Those infants may not have had a chance to get their full vaccination against pertussis. So, they're really at risk. Pertussis seems to hit infants the hardest; those are where we'll see the deaths in pertussis cases."

Nationally, around 40,000 confirmed cases of whooping cough have been reported, the most since 1959.

More information is online at odh.ohio.gov.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - OH