Dozens of phone calls are coming into the Partners in Pediatrics clinic in Brooklyn Park from parents concerned about the rise in whooping cough or pertussis cases.
"There's a very big increase in pertussis out there," said Dr. James Bukstein with Partners in Pediatrics. "So far the best tool we have to prevent whooping cough is the vaccine. It's not 100 percent, but it's the best strategy that we have."
Whooping cough is most dangerous and even deadly for children under the age of 1. Doctors recommend making sure your child is up-to-date on vaccinations, but it's also important for parents, pregnant women, grandparents and anyone else who is regularly around kids to get the pertussis vaccine.
"Across the country the data shows only about 8 percent of adults have, so that's something that we can do to really make a dent in the outbreak," said Kris Ehresmann with the Minnesota Department of Health.
To date, there are more than 1,800 pertussis cases in Minnesota, but the Minnesota Department of Health predicts that number could rise to 3,400 by the end of the year.
The pertussis vaccine was adjusted in the 1990s to lessen side effects, but that change in the vaccine may have reduced its long-term effectiveness.
"The protection that a person gets when they're vaccinated doesn't last as long," said Ehresmann.
Adolescents and adults with whooping cough will likely experience severe coughing fits, but it might not sound the same as it does in young children. Getting antibiotics can lessen the severity and make you less contagious.
"The less pertussis that there is in the community," said Bukstein, "the less opportunity there is for children to get infected."
Alexandra Renslo, reporting
Friday, July 27, 2012