Kanawha County health officials report whooping cough cases - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Kanawha County health officials report whooping cough cases

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Health officials recommend for people to get a vaccination for pertussis Health officials recommend for people to get a vaccination for pertussis
CHARLESTON, WV -

Health officials in Kanawha County are investigating several cases of pertussis or the whooping cough. Four cases have been confirmed in the past month, and officials say they are hoping to prevent the respiratory disease from spreading.  

"Since 2005 we've started having peaks, periodic epidemics of the disease," said Dr. Rahul Gutpa, the executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. "We had one then, one in 2010, and we have another one right now."  

Pertussis is a very contagious respiratory disease that can cause serious illness in adults, children, and infants. At first, whooping cough can seem like a common cold, but the illness can cause severe coughing spells, vomiting, and disturbed sleep. The cough can become severe after one or two weeks and may last for months.  

The most recent cases include a report of a child with pertussis attending the U.S. Martial Arts Tournament in St. Albans, WV as well as a child in Kanawha County Schools. Health officials sent out a letter to parents to alert them of possible exposure and infection.  

"We want to make sure the transmission stops. So the child, when we found out he tested positive, is home confined until fully treated," said Gupta.  

Nationwide, there has been a steady increase in pertussis cases. Gupta says one of the causes is that people aren't getting vaccinations.  

"Infectious diseases come back when people put down their guard," he said. "This is an extremely safe vaccine."  

Gupta says it's important for adults to get a Tdap vaccination, which immunizes against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. He says many times parents spread the disease to children and infants who are the most vulnerable population.