Allegheny County is experiencing a growing number of cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, the Health Department announced.
Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory disease that can cause uncontrollable violent coughing episodes that often make it hard it be breathe. Someone with pertussis may need to take deep breaths that result in the "whooping" sound characteristic of the disease.
There have been 46 confirmed or probable pertussis cases since the beginning of the year, well above the average of seven reported cases in that time period over the last several years, the Health Department said. The average age of the patient is 11, but the cases also include some infants and senior citizens.
The Health Department is recommending laboratory tests be performed on all individuals suspected of having whooping cough. It further recommends appropriate antibiotic treatment for suspected cases, as well as for any people in close contact with confirmed cases, such as family members.
Health officials also strongly recommend that infants, young children, adolescents and adults be vaccinated against pertussis. The illness can be fatal in babies less than a year old.
Vaccinations are available at the county Health Department clinic in Oakland. For information, call 412-687-2243 or go to www.achd.net.
First Published May 20, 2012 12:00 AM