Increasing number of whooping cough cases in St. Louis

Thursday, November 20, 2008 | 11:26 a.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — The number of whooping cough cases in St. Louis County is on the rise, prompting health officials to call for vaccinations.

The county health department reports 146 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, so far this year compared to eight by this time last year.

Many of the cases are among children 14 and younger.

County Health Department Director Dolores Gunn said proper vaccinations can prevent the illness.

Whooping cough is caused by bacteria, and can easily be spread by coughing and sneezing. Unless treated with antibiotics, a person can be contagious for up to three weeks after symptoms start.

Over time, symptoms, similar to those of a common cold, escalate to spasmodic bursts of rapid coughs, a high-pitched "whoop" sound and desire to vomit.


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