Elmira/Corning Regional Airport

Whooping Cough Increase

Whooping Cough Increase
Corning (WENY) -- The number of whooping cough cases has grown from 265 in 2009 to almost 1,000 cases so far in this year.

"There are pockets of people who don't believe in immunizations, that is one possible reason," said Beverly Butts, a registered nurse and public health educator. "The other is that no immunization is 100 percent effective. Immunity to whooping cough wanes over time means that you start to lose your immunity."

Infants are most at risk because they're born with no immunity and have small airways. Medical professionals say anyone who has contact with an infant should be immunized and that concerns many parents.

"They are actually both vaccinated," said Jennifer Bretch about her two children. "It was a really difficult decision. I didn't know if I was going to because there's a lot of research and questions about how a vaccination effects them."

The illness affects both young and old and often starts with cold-like symptoms including a rapid, severe cough. You can catch it by being within three feet of someone infected.

"Congregate settings," said Butts in regards to where you can catch the disease. "If you have a cough-like illness, you don't cover your cough, and you're not washing your hands after you've coughed, you can spread it to someone else. It's highly contagious."

"You cant just -- germs are everywhere, and you can't just live in fear," added Bretch.