Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Whooping Cough Outbreak Causes Concern

Whooping Cough
The New Mexico Department of Health has a serious warning for Bernalillo County residents after it said it has seen a significant increase in whooping cough cases recently, especially in schools.
Health officials said it's not just parents who need to keep a close eye out, because anyone could potentially catch the disease that's spreading rapidly.

"(It's) really bad news because my son has asthma, and that's going on in his school and that means he's going to be affected right away," said parent Milady Ontiveros.

Ontiveros said her son is in seventh grade at Harrison Middle School, one of the schools the Health Department is investigating.

Health officials said whooping cough has also been linked to Barcelona Elementary School, A Children's Garden, Atrisco Heritage Academy High School, Eastern Hills Christian Academy and Rio Grande Christian Academy.

The health department said whooping cough starts with typical cold symptoms, but progresses into uncontrollable coughing, and it's highly contagious, making schools especially vulnerable.

"It's certainly not only the environment where it's spread. It's spreading in families that have a lot of close contact with one another and extended family members," said medical epidemiologist Dr. Joan Baumbach.

During an average year, the Health Department said it sees about 35 cases of whooping cough in Bernalillio County, but this year, the number has already spiked to 87, with many of the cases reported in the past two months.

The Health Department said at least 144 cases have been reported statewide.

Whooping Cough

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