Hillsborough County Leads Way In Whooping Cough Cases Statewide

Apr 23, 2012

More than two dozen cases of whooping cough have cropped up in Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County Health officials say an entire family came down with pertussis also known as whooping cough and individuals who came into contact with that family helped to spread it around.

For adults, whooping cough may not be such a big deal.  It may just show up as a cough that just won't go away. And it doesn't come with that signature "whooping" sound. Because that shot you had to prevent it as a child may have worn off. 

But Warren McDougle of the Hillsborough County Health Department says for grandparents and other relatives with a chronic cough, even babysitters, it's best to stay away from infants who haven't had their full cycle of immunizations which is normally completed by 7-8 months of age. 

McDougle says, "For tiny babies, (pertussis) can be a pretty rough illness and can cause some pretty severe symptomology.  The other thing is, unfortunately, it can be fatal.  That's the worst-case scenario." 

Pertussis symptoms for babies may look like the common cold, but the cough hangs on for more than two weeks.  And children with the illness may struggle to breathe while coughing and then vomit after coughing. 

But McDougall says it's treatable if recognized early enough. He says some of the children in cases discovered since January have been hospitalized, but recovered.