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Pertussis on the rise in U.S. - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Pertussis on the rise in U.S.

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

It's an illness that can strike anyone, but is especially deadly for infants and young children.
 
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is marked by uncontrollable, violent coughing that makes a "whooping" sound. 

Though the illness was almost wiped out, this year we're heading toward the biggest season for the illness - summer.

It's hard to listen to and terrifying for parents of young infants.
 
Pertussis can cause babies to stop breathing and even lead to neurological complications.

Amanda Soldani is the soon-to-be mother of two and coordinator of the Child Life Department at University Health hospital.
 
Pertussis has been a concern for her with each child.
 
"You want to take the best care of your baby and sometimes things are out of your control. Illnesses like whooping cough can be one of those things," said Soldani.

Dr. Joseph Bocchini, director of pediatrics at LSU Health Sciences Center, said vaccinations are the best way to combat pertussis.
 
The CDC now recommends that mothers get a new dose of the pertussis vaccine with each pregnancy. It's bundled into the Tdap shot with tetanus and diphtheria. You can ask for it from your doctor in the third trimester.

"That not only protects the mother from getting pertussis, but, if she gets it in the third trimester of pregnancy, that often produces enough antibodies that it will protect the baby to some degree as well," said Bocchini.

Your baby should get pertussis vaccinations after delivery at two, four and six months with a booster after 12 months.

In the meantime, it's vital for anyone who comes in close contact with the baby to get vaccinated themselves.

"We really need people around those young babies to be protected so the babies don't get exposed. Now after the second dose at four months of age they begin to get their own protection," said Bocchini.

It can take months for a child's immune system to fully respond to the vaccinations.
 
That's why they are so susceptible to pertussis in the first stages of life.

"You have to what we call 'prime' the immune system. You have to make the immune system aware that there is this antigen. Then it remembers the antigen. So, the second dose you get a stronger response. The third dose you get the full response. Then we have to boost that immunity over a lifetime because the immunity doesn't remain the same unless you get booster doses," said Bocchini.

In the latest national numbers, 17 states saw an increase in cases of pertussis from 2012-2013. That includes Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

That's why Soldani, who's only halfway through her pregnancy, is already mapping out vaccinations for her family.

"I plan on getting the booster. My doctor likes to give it around 28-29 weeks. And of course, my husband and any immediate and extended family who will be around the baby for an extended period of time will get a booster," said Soldani.

Click here for an age chart to all the recommended child immunizations.

Arkansas has now tightened down on immunization requirements.
 
Children who are 11 and older before Sept. 1 of each school year will be required to have a Tdap shot in order to attend public or private school in Arkansas.

 

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