Indiana Whooping Cough Cases Up

Some Worry About Spread Of Disease

Cases of whooping cough in Indiana have been up recently, leading some to believe that the ongoing epidemic in California could spread to other states.

Five infants were killed by the disease, which is marked by incessant coughing so severe that it can cause vomiting and broken ribs, 6News' Stacia Matthews reported.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whooping cough, also known as pertussis, the disease spreads in cycles, and the United States is due for an uptick.

The disease earned its name from the whooping sound someone with pertussis makes when they take in a breath.

In the early 1900s, whooping cough was the No. 1 cause of childhood illness and death. After a deep decline in the 1970s, it's making a comeback.

There were 400 reported cases in Indiana in 2009. So far this year, 130 cases have been reported, and one infant died from complications. Whooping cough is preventable through a vaccine.

"Pertussis immunity from the vaccine wanes over time, so it's important for people to be vaccinated," said Dr. Joan Duwve, of the Indiana State Department of Health.

A particular preventative measure, called the cocoon strategy, is the most effective way to keep children from catching the disease. The strategy calls for the immunization of any person who will come in contact with a baby, including the parents, siblings, grandparents and caregivers.

"Members of the family who are eligible for the vaccine get vaccinated and protect the young members of the families who can't be vaccinated because they are too little," Duwve said.

Women who are considering getting pregnant should get vaccinated before having a baby, and new mothers should wait until after delivery, Duwve said.

Indiana requires that children be vaccinated against whooping cough at age 2, 4, 6 and 15 months, with a booster shot before entering kindergarten.

New immunization requirements state that children who are entering 6th grade through 12th grade must get another pertussis booster.

Whooping cough is often tough to diagnose because it starts with symptoms similar to a cold. If caught early, pertussis is treatable with antibiotics.