Kentucky is seeing an ‘unusually high uptick’ in pertussis, known as whooping cough; Lexington outbreak grows to 21 cases

Published 3:43 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2024

By Heather Close, Kentucky Health News

Kentucky doctors and the state Department for Public Health “are seeing an unusually high uptick in whooping cough,” or pertussis, Louisville’s WDRB reports.

“Immunity for vaccination or natural infections wanes over time, so people who are fully vaccinated can still get whooping cough. Doctors said the vaccine lessens the severity and will likely keep someone out of the hospital.”

Seven more cases of pertussis were confirmed in Lexington last week, bringing the total to 21 since April 26. The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department declared a pertussis outbreak on May 20.

Most of Kentucky’s cases have been in school-age children, but some been in infants and adults, WDRB reports.

“It’s not unusual to actually see whooping cough; however, the numbers that are being seen, that is definitely unusual, ” Dr. Mark Burns of the University of Louisville told WDRB. “It’s usually not that prevalent as it is right now.”

— Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.