It has been many years since whooping cough was a household problem. However, in the last year, whooping cough is making a noisy reappearance in the public health world.



In the past three to five years, Tazewell County has only had one to two cases reported every year. So far this year, more than 20 cases have been reported. That is a sizable increase that is causing concern in the Communicable Disease Department at Tazewell County Health Department.


It has been many years since whooping cough was a household problem. However, in the last year, whooping cough is making a noisy reappearance in the public health world.

In the past three to five years, Tazewell County has only had one to two cases reported every year. So far this year, more than 20 cases have been reported. That is a sizable increase that is causing concern in the Communicable Disease Department at Tazewell County Health Department.

The cases that are reported in Tazewell County are children and adults who have been immunized. Recent studies show that a booster vaccine is required to prevent the spread of Pertussis or whooping cough. Whooping cough immunity (protection) can fade five to 10 years after the last Tdap vaccination, which is given at age 4 to 6. A single booster of Tdap vaccine is recommended for anyone 11 to 64 years old. Tdap includes vaccine to prevent tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

Whooping cough symptoms begin one to two weeks after exposure to the bacteria.  Symptoms usually last six to 10 weeks and can occur in three stages.

Stage one begins with cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing and a mild cough.  

In stage two, the cold-like symptoms fade, but the cough gets worse. The cough will change from a dry, hacking cough to bursts of uncontrollable, violent coughing with vomiting and gagging. Coughing may become worse at night. Between coughing spells, the infected person often appears normal.

During stage three, the infected person will improve and gain strength, but cough may become louder and sound worse.  

Whooping cough is especially dangerous to infants because the windpipe of an infant is much smaller than that of older children and infants are too young to be immunized against the disease. Infants and young children often appear very ill and distressed, and may turn blue and vomit.

Serious and sometimes life-threatening complications can be caused by whooping cough (pertussis) in infants and young children, especially those who are not fully vaccinated. Of all infants younger than 1 year of age who get pertussis, more than half must be hospitalized. The younger the infant, the more likely treatment in the hospital will be needed.

Teenagers and adults may have a milder case of whooping cough, but are able to transmit the disease to an infant living in the home. To protect infants and young children, anyone who lives with a baby or takes care of a baby should receive a Tdap shot.  

Parents have the most contact with their baby, so a Tdap shot is extremely important for them. Babies most often catch whooping cough from a family member. Most people have no serious reactions from this vaccine. Some common side effects are soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site, headache, body aches and tiredness.  

The Tazewell County Health Department offers Tdap vaccine to adults on Tuesdays from 1–4 p.m. and Thursdays from 8–11 a.m.  
Tdap vaccine is $53 per adult. Children, ages 18 years and younger, are eligible for the $8 Vaccines For Children shots at the monthly childhood immunization clinics. Visit www.tazewellhealth.org/immunization_clinics.htm to see the clinic schedule.

To hear an example of a whooping cough, visit www.pkids.org/dis_pert_stsop.php
For more information on pertussis (whooping cough) visit www.cdc.gov/pertussis/.