Utah part of worst pertussis outbreak since 1959

Posted at 10:39 PM, Nov 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-28 00:39:32-05

The United States is suffering the worst whooping cough outbreak since 1959, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Utah is no exception.

Utah health officials say they're seeing some startling numbers including four Utah County elementary schools reporting a number of cases.  
12 year-old Lynden Brogan cringed as he received several booster shots Tuesday.

"Look at me, don't watch it," his mother Tiffany Brogan said.

Brogan is trying to protect her son from what`s become a national concern.

“It's really heartbreaking as a parent," said Brogan.

While her son`s school in Mapleton does not have any confirmed whooping cough cases, the concern of it spreading is very real.  Statewide, Utah has more than 11-hundred confirmed  cases.  That’s double last year`s numbers and a similar story is playing out in Utah County.  Most most affected is Foothill Elementary in Orem which has 15 confirmed cases.  Kids are being pulled out of school as a result.

“We are excluding kids and we're we`re sending letters homes to parents to keep their children home if they are sick, said Lance Madigan with Utah Co. Health Department.

Health officials say this is part of a national wave of Pertussis cases with outbreaks in California and Washington.  Also, in the late 90s, a newer vaccine was introduced and health officials suspect that may play a role.

“It`s called an a-cellular, meaning that it`s not a full cell.  the reason it was introduced it`s a safety vaccine, there`s fewer side effects but we`re now questioning about how long the effectiveness of that vaccine is and if the booster should be moved up closely,” said Madigan.

Whooping cough has similar symptoms to the common cold but the cough lingers.  It`s also deeper and heavier.  Health officials say make sure your child`s immunizations are up to date, wash your hands consistently, keep sick kids at home and adults should check their immunization records too.