Recent Spike In Whooping Cough Cases In Carteret County

Apr 11, 2018

Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent in pertussis or whooping cough. Between 10,000 and 40,000 cases are reported each year in the United States, but many cases go unreported.
Credit Nathan Reading

Health officials in Carteret County have noticed an uptick in the number of whooping cough cases in school-aged children so far this year.  

Since January, there’s been seven cases of pertussis in Carteret County.  That number is much higher than in other areas of eastern North Carolina with larger populations such as Craven County with two confirmed cases, Pitt County with one case and Onslow County with no cases in 2018.  Kim Davis, Nursing Director for Carteret County Health Department is unsure why the numbers are higher this year. 

“It’s various sites throughout the county, it’s not one particular site that has more than others, nothing we’ve been able to link as far as people in the same vicinity.  So it’s just kind of been sporadic.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, many factors contribute to a resurgence of whooping cough including increased awareness of the disease leading to more diagnoses and a vaccine that has become less effective.  Davis says that shouldn’t discourage people from getting vaccinated.

“It doesn’t completely eradicate the possibility of being infected but it can completely decrease the symptoms that you have and help prevent a great many. Think of if we didn’t have anybody vaccinated, how many pertussis cases we would have.”

Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes uncontrollable coughing that can last up to 10 weeks. The DTaP vaccine for babies and young children, and the Tdap vaccine for preteens, teens, and adults — including pregnant women — help prevent this potentially life threatening illness.