Whooping Cough, There It Is: 2010's Big Epidemic.

While "Whooping Cough" sounds like something you catch on The Oregon Trail right before your oxen die of dysentery from trying to cross the river, it's actually a deadly cold that's currently killing babies in California right now at a rate not seen since 1955. Why's this happening, and how do you know you have "pertussis"? Fear-mongering, after the jump.

Via CNN, some people are saying The Whoop is back because parents are shielding their kids from the vaccination, because of an unproven fear that it causes autism:

The childhood vaccine for whooping cough has not been raised as a possible cause of autism, and the vaccines that were concerning have been shown not to cause autism with substantial evidence, said Stacey Martin, a staff epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who works on pertussis.

And a 2009 study directly connected the rise in Whooping Cough to kids not getting vaccinated. So you should probably get your kids vaccinated. Meanwhile, to scare the shit out of you, here's how you can tell you have it:

Once you become infected with whooping cough, it takes three to 12 days for signs and symptoms to appear. They're usually mild at first and resemble those of a common cold:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Red, watery eyes
  • A mild fever
  • Dry cough
After a week or two, signs and symptoms worsen. Severe and prolonged coughing attacks may:

Bring up thick phlegm Provoke vomiting Result in a red or blue face Cause extreme fatigue End with a high-pitched "whoop" sound during the next breath of air

However, many people -- particularly infants, adolescents, and adults -- don't develop the characteristic whoop. Sometimes, a persistent hacking cough is the only sign that an adolescent or adult has whooping cough.

When to see a doctor Call your doctor if prolonged coughing spells cause you or your child to:

  • Vomit
  • Turn red or blue
  • Inhale with a whooping sound

And now you know.

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It would be terribly ironic if I died of whooping cough, now. I hope I don't.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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