Whooping Cough outbreak warning in Fresno County

FRESNO, Calif.

4-months ago Andy Vo's younger brother was diagnosed with whooping cough. "He couldn't really be active or else he might start coughing and get other kids sick," said Vo.

"We treated the whole family so if anybody had the bacteria we'd catch the bacteria before they actually got the disease," said Dr. Harsh Saigal.

Saigal said at least four of the patients at his Fresno pediatric practice have been diagnosed with this respiratory infection that leads to convulsive coughs lasting up to at least 6 weeks.

So far this year 76 cases have been confirmed and another 77 are under investigation by the Department of Public Health. Even more startling is the fact that 72 of those suspected cases happened last month alone. In all of 2009, the county only had 27 confirmed cases.

"Severe coughing spells where they're struggling to get air and then they do this long...struggle to get air inside," said David Luchini with the Department of Public Health.

Luchini said whooping cough is cyclical … but even he was perplexed by last month's dramatic spike. "We see spikes of pertussis every 4 to 5 years. So the last time we saw the spike was 2005."

Which is why both experts recommend the T-DAP shot that not only vaccinates against the whooping cough but tetanus.

"That's not only going to protect them but protect the whole family," said Saigal.

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