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Cases of whooping cough on the rise in St. Louis County

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The number of whooping cough cases in St. Louis County is on the rise, prompting health officials to call for vaccinations.

The county health department reports 146 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, so far this year compared to eight by this time last year.

Many of the cases are among children 14 and younger.

Mike Williams of the St. Louis County Health Department suspects that the rise in cases is because school age children are not getting vaccine boosters frequently enough.

"We that that's what we're seeing here is a school age population that's coming down with whooping cough because its been awhile since their last pertussis booster," says Williams.

"Any time the disease appears in a school setting, we take steps to stop it and included in those steps, we restrict kids with symptoms and make sure they stay home. We also advise the proper vaccinations depending on how old they are."

Over time, symptoms similar to those of a common cold escalate to spasmodic bursts of rapid coughs.

Williams says early adolescents, new mothers and teachers could all benefit from a whooping cough booster.