Whooping Cough

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

No doubt that is a horrible sound. The sound of whooping cough, or pertussis, a highly-contagious illness that may act at first like a normal cold, but is actually a distinct, potentially dangerous illness.

"Pertussis in Japanese translates to 100 days of coughing. Which is roughly how long you will cough with whooping cough."

Dr. Michael Ryan is a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Geisinger Medical Center near Danville, who met us in Scranton to give us some alarming statistics.

Back in the 1930's and 1940's, there were as many as 250-thousand cases of whooping cough in the u-s each year. In the 50's, when a vaccine was introduced, that number dropped to only a handful.

But in 2010 that number jumped dramatically to 27-thousand cases, and so far this year there are already some 30-thousand cases reported nationwide. At least 30-of them from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area.

Babies and children are known to get pertussis more often than adults, but Dr. Ryan says usually the illness can be traced back to an adult.

"If an adult gets this, they basically don't sleep for two weeks. They'll be up every two hours coughing, they may cough so hard they throw up or pass out. It's incredibly debilitating."

A simple solution: proper vaccination.

Dr. Ryan says infectious disease officials think the number one reason for the climb in cases is people not properly vaccinating their children.

"That's what we want to get across to people. Whooping cough is much worse than the adverse reaction to the vaccination."