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Whooping cough

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POSTED: Monday, November 19, 2012 - 6:13pm

UPDATED: Monday, November 19, 2012 - 7:07pm

Whooping cough is back and local schools are seeing an increase in cases. So, what is it exactly and how dangerous is it for your kids?

It’s called Pertussis, but most of us know it as whooping cough. It can be deadly, and is preventable. Even so, deaths nationwide are going up.

Schools are dealing with it. And the message sent out by Lindale ISD Friday was similar to what many districts are seeing.

"Very contagious. Very contagious. If you think about coughing and sneezing. A sneeze can travel at 200 miles per hour," says Silvia Radcliffe, an infectious disease nurse at Trinity Mother Francis.

"Well it just starts off as a common cold,” she says, “And then a cough can develop and if you have a cough that lasts greater than one to two weeks, you may have pertussis."

Whooping cough is the only preventable disease that is seeing an increase in deaths nationwide, 17 last year. And worldwide, 49 million people catch the disease and roughly 300,000 will die from it.

“You know those wonderful vaccines that we all got that we thought were going to afford lifelong immunity have not proven to do that,” Radcliffe says. “Immunity wanes and if they haven't had the booster shot, they can get it and they can give it to others."

Just last spring, Washington state had a declared pertussis epidemic. Several infants died.

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