Vermont health officials are warning of a dramatic increase in whooping cough cases in one region of the state. And they're asking health care providers, school nurses and patients to pay attention to coughs that linger past a week or so.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection. The state usually sees a handful of cases each month, but in Franklin and Grand Isle counties right now, more than 90 have been reported with more than 40 already lab-confirmed.
Health officials say it's important for people to be treated because of the threat to vulnerable populations, especially babies.
"In anyone, pertussis is going to be uncomfortable, inconvenient and it's going to impact their day to day life. But for infants, it can be life threatening and so our message really is for folks who have pertussis, they need to seek medical evaluation and get an antibiotic to treat themselves so that they reduce their risk of spreading pertussis to infants," said Laura Ann Nicolai of the Vermont Department of Health.
Nicolai says pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are also at greater risk of harm from whooping cough. Although it's not 100 percent effective, she says the vaccine is the best protection.
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