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Louisville Infants Diagnosed With Whooping Cough

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Three cases of whooping cough have been diagnosed in infants in Louisville, according to Metro Public Health & Wellness.

The highly contagious respiratory tract infection has been recently found in three children between the ages of 3 months and 6 months.

None of the infants had been vaccinated, said Dr. Sarah Moyer, interim director of the health department. She said it's unusual to have three infants who have not been vaccinated for pertussis.

“Whooping cough is a vaccine-preventable disease, and we have a vaccine out there that works," Moyer said.

About half of the babies younger than 1 who get the whooping cough end up in the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Whooping cough also leads to a handful of deaths each year.

"It can be very dangerous. So we just encourage everyone to get vaccinated on schedule,” Moyer said.

It is recommended that infants receive the vaccine DTap at ages 2, 4 and 6 months old. The vaccine protects against whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus. The booster vaccine Tdap is administered at 15 to 18 months, at 4-6 years old, and at 11 years old. Tdap is also given to adults.

Infants who become ill from the whooping cough usually get it from family or caregivers, according to the CDC. The bacteria is spread through coughing or sneezing.

Moyer said symptoms in adults initially resemble a cold, but the cough evolves to sounds like a "whoop." But she said symptoms in infants may be harder to detect.

“In infants they might not have much of a cough. It could be really minimal, but they usually display signs of apnea, which is kind of like a pause in the breathing pattern and sometimes they can even turn blue,” Moyer said.

It is recommended that those living with or caring for someone with whooping cough get a one-time dose of Tdap, if they haven't already done so.