The Indiana State Health Department announced Monday they're seeing the biggest outbreak of Whooping Cough since 1959. So far this year there've been 500 cases of Pertussis or Whooping Cough in the state. The Allen County Health Commissioner says 10 people have reported having it in our county. Fortunately there haven't been any deaths in our area, but that's not the case statewide.
Two Indiana infants have died from Whooping Cough this year. The disease is most threatening to babies, but it can impact anyone of any age. Dr. Deborah McMahan, the Allen County Health Commissioner, says “I think when adults get it they think they have a really annoying cough.”
There are about 300 more cases statewide than usual. McMahan says “Usually we have between 100 and 200 cases in the state. There's always some fluctuation. About every couple of years we will see more cases than we usually do, but this is the most we've had for a long time.”
Doctor McMahan says a recent finding on immunity could explain the increase. McMahan says “I think part of it is we used to think immunity was life long that if you had whooping cough or you had the vaccine for it, that you were protected for lifetime and now we realize that's really beginning to wane.”
The heaviest coughing lasts about 10 weeks. The disease is contagious and immunization is important to prevent passing it on to children. Dr. McMahan encourages adults to get vaccinated every 10 years. She also says if you have it and don't do anything about it, you will be coughing for 3 months.