OKLAHOMA CITY — The U.S. is on course to have a record-breaking year for whooping cough, known in medical circles as Pertussis.
According to the CDC, whooping cough has reached epidemic status in Washington State.
There have also been outbreaks in 18 other states.
Thankfully, Oklahoma is not one of them.
In fact, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, whooping cough is not tracking as high in Oklahoma as it is in other regions of the country.
“It’s kind of cyclic in nature, where every three to five years we might see a peak in cases. In 2010 we had 199 cases which was high compared to our average of 100 cases per year,” Laurence Burnsed said, Director of the Communicable Disease Division at the State Department of Health.
Oklahoma has only had 26 reported cases of whooping cough this year.
According to OU Medical Center Pediatrician Dr. Rupal Patel, most often whooping cough is passed from adults or teens to unprotected children.
Most Oklahomans have no idea the immunizations they likely received as children decrease in protection as you age.
“The immunization wanes off as you get older and that’s why older people do get the cough,” Dr. Rupal Patel said.
In 2011 the State Department of Health lobbied for a new requirement for Oklahoma seventh graders.
“We pushed through and got a new requirement for all students entering seventh grade to get a Pertussis vaccine in an effort to try and get the vaccine out in the community and to get more prevention out,” Bobbie Nubine said, Chief of Immunization Services at the State Dept. of Health.
Experts also recommend pregnant women get a Pertussis vaccination in their third trimester.
Oklahoma’s 68 County Health Departments offer the Pertussis immunization for the uninsured and underinsured.