KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Whooping cough or pertussis is a respiratory infection that can cause nasty fits of coughing — it has sent two kids in Spring Hill schools home.
However, according to the Johnson County Health Department, it is not seeing more cases this month than others.
The total number of pertussis or whooping cough cases this year so far is 88. The median for the past five years is 86.
Sarah Minks is familiar with pertussis; her 6-year-old son Cooper has had it 10 times.
"He's gone to the emergency room, and they have given him steroids," said Minks, who said her son is thankfully doing much better now and has not had the illness in more than a year.
Minks said she keeps a humidifier in her son's room.
Symptoms of whooping cough include a runny or stuffed-up nose, mild cough or a pause in breathing in babies.
"The cough becomes very bad. People get short of breath and turn blue. The children who have more severe symptoms can have vomiting after a coughing episode," said Cathy Shemwell, the assistant division director of health services for Johnson County.
A representative of Spring Hill School District said they have sent notes home to the schools affected and they have care information on its website.
Health department officials said these cases are not a reason to cause alarm.
In Kansas City, there have been 30 reported cases this year. In 2016 the metro had 22, in 2015 it had 11, in 2014 it saw 28, in 2013 it had 59 and in 2012 there was an outbreak with 110 cases.
On average, up to 20 children die from whooping cough in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. Most of these are babies who don't have protection because they're too young to get the vaccination shots.
Doctors tell 41 Action News the number one way to prevent whooping cough is to get vaccinated.
"Anybody who is spending time with a new baby should be vaccinated. A lot of parents are excluding friends and family who have not been," said Shemwell.
It's recommended your child gets five doses of the DTaP shot for the best protection. Those occur at the following ages:
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 15 through
- 18 months
- 4 through 6 years
You are recommended to get a booster in adolescent years and every 10 years as an adult.
Health department officials said whooping cough has a distinct noise that sounds like a barking dog. However, you can have whooping cough even if that sound does not present. Typically you would have a continuous cough for 14 days and would need a test to determine if you have it.
If you are pregnant it's also recommended that you get vaccinated, because you pass on part of that immunity to your child.