Utah County sees big spike in whooping cough cases

Johnson Family of Utah County receive the pertussis/whooping cough vaccine. (Photo: Christina Flores/KUTV)

(KUTV) -- The Utah County Health Department issued a warning about a spike in cases of whooping cough.

Seventy cases were reported this year so far. That's twice as many cases as were reported during the same time period last year.

Pertussis - also known as whooping cough - is very contagious and the concern is it will spread now that children are back in class.

"We expect more cases to happen in school since the students are in very close quarters," said Lisa Guerra, Registered Nurse and Epidemiology Coordinator at the Utah County Health Department.

Guerra said it's not clear what caused the spike in cases but likely some of the patients are not immunized.

Cases also surge every seven to 10 years.

While adults can contract whooping cough, young children and babies are most susceptible and can experience the most severe symptoms and even die in the worst cases.

Children who have pertussis can cough persistently and stop breathing for one to two minutes.

Children who have severe coughs should be taken to a doctor right away to test for pertussis, then start antibiotic treatments if the bacteria is present.

Oxygen may be administered to little ones who struggle to breathe.

Adults can also receive antibiotic treatments if a test shows they are infected.

People who receive antibiotics can be contagious for up to five days after.

The health department recommends adults who will spend time around children should receive the vaccine.

Mike and Wendy Johnson showed up at the Health Department to receive the whooping cough vaccine.

Their first grandchild will be born in November and they don't want to risk contracting whooping cough and passing it on to the baby.

"I want as much baby time as I can't get so I'm going to get my injection," said Wendy.

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