Kentucky sees uptick in whooping cough cases - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky sees uptick in whooping cough cases

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Local and state health officials are monitoring a growing number of whooping cough cases.

“Symptomatically, these folks are really miserable,” said Dr. Charles Sowder, a physician at Baptist Health Eastpoint. “The first clinical stage is a common cold, they get a runny nose and upper respiratory symptoms and a little cough.”

The symptoms of common cold and cough are typical for older children and adults -- though that changes for infants.

“This is a serious illness in older children and adults but it generally these days it isn't going to kill them,” Dr. Sowder said. “Infants can present their first symptom as they simply stop breathing. “

According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, there have been 161 confirmed or probable cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, in the state since Aug. 1. Jefferson County has had 31 cases.

Data on any JCPS students who might have whooping cough was not available Wednesday. However it did release the following statement:

"The health and safety of our students are our highest priorities. We keep in close contact with state and local health officials to monitor and respond to emerging illnesses and health threats, and continually work with our schools and parents on the best ways to reduce the spread of illness."

Sowder thinks many of the cases, particularly those in schools, could be prevented.

“It has had an incredibly disturbing resurgence in recent years primarily because of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children,” he said.

 For the most part, treating whooping cough is easy.

“Give them a z-pack. It's that simple,” Sowder said of treating an older child or adult with whooping cough. However, he did add that in some cases it may be as many as three months before a person is fully cured.

“The antibiotic treatment is simple,” Dr. Sowder said. “The real challenge is the public health challenge.”

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