The number of whooping cough cases is on the rise in and around Philadelphia. Normally, there are between 200 and 600 cases of whooping cough reported in Pennsylvania each year. So far this year, the state says there have been about 330 cases reported. The actually number with unreported cases is likely much higher. Officials say most of the cases have been reported in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. In advanced stages, it’s marked a severe, hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like “whoop.” At first, there may only be a runny nose, mild cough, and low-grade fever, mimicking a run of the mill cold. But as the disease progresses, the nasal discharge becomes thicker and more profuse and the cough becomes more aggressive.
The best prevention of the whooping cough is to get children vaccinated. Pennsylvania health officials are encouraging parents to ensure vaccinations are up to date before school starts to prevent a whooping cough epidemic. If a child does have whopping cough, it is important to know that over-the-counter cough medicines will have little affect on whooping cough and are discouraged. Antibiotics are necessary to treat whooping cough. Because the infection is so contagious, it is recommended that family members of someone infected also take the antibiotics.