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Whooping cough on the rise

Updated: Monday, January 20 2014, 10:03 PM MST
By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- Whooping cough is a highly contagious illness doctors in the Borderland said is on the rise.

Chances are most people have seen the commercials on television showing babies and children coughing up a storm. It's called whooping cough, also known as pertussis.

"Sometimes the cough will linger on for more than two to three weeks," said Dr. Andres Enriquez with Franklin Medical Center.

Enriquez said if a cough lasts more than a week, it's time to get checked.

The number of whooping cough cases across the nation plummeted once a vaccine became available, but within the last few years the numbers are spiking again.

According to the El Paso Department of Public Health in 2011 there were only six reported cases in the city. In 2012 that number of cases jumped to 55 cases. In 2013 the number of cases continued to rise, with 73 confirmed cases for the year.

"It starts off like your upper repertory type infection - cough, congestion, runny nose. But in kids it can also develop to a pneumonia and the infant might not have the necessary antibiotics to fight off the pneumonia," said Enriquez.

Babies and young children aren't the only ones at risk.

"In the past couple years we have seen an increase in cases of adult pertussis," said Enriquez.

Even for adults that aren't experiencing any symptoms Enriquez said it doesn't mean they're not a carrier.

"You're carrying the bacteria. You might expose somebody to the bacteria itself and give them whooping cough," said Enriquez.

That's why doctors encourage everyone to get vaccinated before it's too late.

"You would go to your family practice, your primary care doctor," said Enriquez.

For all elders who had the vaccine when they were younger Enriquez said, "Anybody 65 and over we want to give a booster also to protect them."

Enriquez says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to revamp their whooping cough vaccine so people would get the shot as a child, adult and elder. Right now, elders who had the shot when they were younger can get a booster, making sure they're still protected.Whooping cough on the rise

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