June 16th, 2014
10:57 AM ET

Have an Infant? Here's What you Need to Know About Whooping Cough

Whooping cough, known to doctors as pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory infection, and California is currently experiencing an epidemic.

According to the state's public health department, 800 cases have been reported in the past two weeks alone.

But it's not only people on the West Coast that should be alarmed.

According to the CDC, the U.S. has seen a 24% increase nationally in whooping cough cases, compared to January through April of last year.

"Whooping cough is so contagious 80% of exposed people will get it," Dr. Alexander van Tulleken, a senior fellow at Fordham University, said on "New Day" Monday.

While there are many symptoms, the actual name for the disease comes from the sound an infected person makes when gasping for breath after a coughing fit.

"One cough on a subway, you will infect 15- 20 people," Dr. Van Tulleken shared.


Since the disease can be potentially fatal to newborns,  if you have an infant or work around children – listen up.

It's time to get both them and parents vaccinated.

About half of the infants who get whooping cough end up in a hospital.

Dr. Van Tulleken acknowledged that some parents may be skeptical of vaccines, primarily because of past reports that linked them to autism, but he said those reports have been "completely debunked."

Although infants can't be vaccinated within the first six weeks of life, parents can build a "ring of protection" around their children by ensuring everyone else is vaccinated.

If you're an adult who's already gotten the vaccine, it's important to note there isn't lifetime immunity.

All adults should get a Tdap booster, unless you had one as a teenager (after age 11).


Prevention is key so Dr. Van Tulleken said use common sense now.

Wash your hands and cough into your elbow to avoid spreading or catching whooping cough.

If you get sick, however, there is a first week or two where you're highly contagious and not very symptomatic.

During this time, if you feel like you have a cough or a cold, he suggested going to your family physician.

Depending on a variety of circumstances, they may or may not treat you with antibiotics.


READ: California declares whooping cough epidemic

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. barbaraj

    Once and for all...the media blitz these last few months has been nothing more than regurgitated pharmaceutical sales tactics, designed to promote fear in parents in an effort to "sell an inferior product".

    June 17, 2014 at 7:40 am | Reply
  2. barbaraj

    The observation that aP, which induces an immune response mismatched to that induced by natural infection, fails to prevent colonization or transmission provides a plausible explanation for the resurgence of pertussis and suggests that optimal control of pertussis will require the development of improved vaccines.

    June 17, 2014 at 7:34 am | Reply
  3. barbaraj

    Did anyone take the time to read the CDC report on pertussis? The dtap vaccine does not only not work for more than a short period in some, it sets the vaccinated up to carry the disease ..contagious..for thirty five days..This vaccine clearly isn't working, and clearly the CDC claims the non vaccinated did not promote this epidemic, the vaccine FAILURE did.

    June 16, 2014 at 11:31 pm | Reply

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