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Health News Florida

Hillsborough County Sees Outbreak of Whooping Cough

whooping cough pic.jpg

More than twice as many people have been diagnosed with whooping cough in Hillsborough County so far this year than in all of last year, according to the county health department.

Health officials say the outbreak started with several large families becoming infected and spreading it to the community. 

Whooping cough, or pertussis, gets its name from the whooping sound made when a person affected by the illness, coughs.

Michael Wiese, an epidemiologist with the Hillsborough County Health Department, says it’s a sound he's hearing more of lately.

"We have seen cases in Hillsborough County that have been higher than we normally would expect and have seen in the past," he said.

So far this year, there have been 41 cases of whooping cough in Hillsborough county. Last year there were only 18. Wiese says most of those affected are adolescents.

"There are several reasons we could be seeing this increase in pertussis. The vaccine coverage that people that have had is no longer effective," he said.

"Also, people have not gotten their booster shot and some parents have chosen not to have their children immunized."

All of which, Wiese says, leaves the community at risk for the potentially dangerous illness.

So far no one in Hillsborough County has been seriously injured by whooping cough.

But health officials warn the bacteria can be very dangerous and can result in death. This is especially true for young children.

They encourage parents and children to get vaccinated.