NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) — It’s highly contagious, and spreads as easily as the common cold.
Northampton’s Public Health Director Meredith O’Leary is seeing cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, spiking in Northampton. “It’s this chronic cough, cluster cough. A series of coughs, and then you’ll almost get that whoop at the end. You’re getting that whoop because you’re short of breath,” she said.
Spread through close contact, Pertussis comes in 3 stages.
At first, it displays cold symptoms. Then, uncontrolled coughing, vomiting after coughing, and during severe spells, a person’s face could turn blue from lack of air.
In the third stage, the symptoms begin to subside, making for a total duration of 6-10 weeks.
As a child first going to school, you get a series of 5 vaccines called D-TAP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis) but they weaken over time.
O’Leary says that most of the city’s 53 cases come from Northampton High School, which is why she says it’s important to get a vaccine once you hit your teens.
“You need to get a booster. The reverse. It’s now tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (TDAP). That booster you should be given anywhere between the ages of 11-13 years old,” O’Leary adds.
However, you can carry pertussis and not know it.
O’Leary says cases of whooping cough have actually been on the rise for the last 20 years. She attributes the recent jump to advanced technology able to specifically pinpoint the illness.
In order to avoid it, O’Leary recommends frequent hand washing, coughing into your arm, and not sharing your drinks or lipstick.