Worst year for whooping cough in 5 decades - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Worst year for whooping cough in 5 decades

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A whooping cough outbreak has hit Arizona. Doctors say we haven't had an outbreak this bad in more than 50 years.

We haven't seen this many cases of whooping cough since 1959. Doctors are asking everyone to get a vaccine, especially adults.

Even though you got the vaccine as a kid it wears off, so you need a booster.

"He was beautiful and perfect and an absolute joy to have in our home," says Natalie Norton. "He was just learning to smile and starting to interact with us."

At 7-weeks old, Norton's son Gavin got whooping cough or pertussis. He was too young to get the vaccine that would have protected him.

"One day there was a cough and it seemed suspicious so I took him into the doctor. Within ten days he was gone. It was a very rapid decline, it was a fierce, fierce disease."

Norton says Gavin's decline was quick and terrible. She watched her 7-week-old son die.

"It's very tragic to see a little die of pertussis these days," says Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona Department of Health.

State health officials say we are having the worst whooping cough outbreak in more than 50 years.

"We are at 600 cases statewide. To give you some perspective last year for the entire year we had 860 cases."

Dr. Christ says adults need to get the vaccine every 10 years, not only for themselves, but to protect infants who are too young to be immunized.

Whooping cough is highly contagious. It starts off with symptoms similar to a cold and turns into coughing fits that can last for more than 2-months.

General doctors don't always carry vaccines, so it's best to get it at an immunization clinic.

Not only does this particular vaccine protect against whooping cough, it also contains a tetanus vaccine. Most vaccines are free with insurance.

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