2/1/02 - Whooping Cough Surfaces

Whooping cough may sound like an illness of the past, but in the last two months, three cases have been diagnosed in the Sikeston area alone. It's not an outbreak,

but health officials are concerned about the number of cases. What people may not realize is that many adults are carriers of whooping cough, and they can easily spread the illness to babies who haven't yet been immunized against it.

Four-month-old Mandy Wilson has been coughing for the last three months. She's been struggling to catch her breath, trying to get over whooping cough. Her mother, Sheila Wilson says, "I didn't know anything about it. I just thought it was a normal cough, take cough medicine and she'll get over it."

Wilson thought her daughter had a cold, she didn't realize the symptoms are the same. Whooping cough starts with a runny nose, a dry cough, and a mild fever. Dr. Lauren Blackwelder at Missouri Delta Medical Center says, "It turns into more of a problem if a child has the symptoms for two to three weeks." That's exactly what happened to Mandy. Wilson says, "When she was coughing, it was like she was trying to cough up something. She just couldn't breathe after, she would just lose her breath."

That's where this illness gets it's name. It's the cough that sets it apart. Children who have whooping cough may turn red or blue after coughing. They also may vomit after they cough, or make a whooping, or wheezing sound between coughs. Mandy's going to be okay, but it may take months for her to fully recover.

The whooping cough immunizations you get as a baby only last a little more than ten years, so many young teens and adults get whooping cough, but the symptoms are often milder and they're more likely to be misdiagnosed.

If you want to read more about the symptoms and treatment of whooping cough, go to www.whoopingcough.net