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Whooping cough a growing concern in Arkansas | Health

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Whooping cough a growing concern in Arkansas
Health, News
Whooping cough a growing concern in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Colds and coughs aren't typically what parents think of in the summertime. But keeping the kids safe this summer also means looking out for lingering diseases. The state has already seen 112 cases of whooping cough or pertussis this year.

"Pertussis is a very contagious respiratory disease caused by a bacterium called Bordetella Pertussis," said Dr. Dirk Haselow, Arkansas State Epidemiologist.

Symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose can mimic allergies and the common cold, making it harder to diagnose. Severe cases cause a cough so bad, you could break a rib or vomit blood.

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"A lot of people end up getting diagnosed late because they think they're having an asthma exacerbation or just a cold that's been persistent," said Dr. Haselow.

In 2013, there were over 450 cases in the state, the highest since 2002. And officials have said not just a seasonal disease but a problem all year long. So the kids could be at risk of picking it up at summer camp.

"We do all of our vaccinations and I think it's important to do that because there are a lot of people these days that are not doing the vaccinations," said Carrie Nelson, mother of two.

But sometimes the vaccination isn't enough.

"The vaccine will typically prevent someone from getting illness, but it doesn't keep them from getting the infection in their nose and transmitting it," said Dr. Haselow.

The Health Department now recommends that all pregnant women get the vaccination with every pregnancy.

"Infants are at the highest risk of being hospitalized or dying from pertussis," said Dr. Haselow.

Still, anyone can pick up whooping cough. If an adult has a cough that lasts for more than a week, they need to see a doctor. The best thing to do in the meantime is stay home because whooping cough is highly contagious.

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