VIDEO REPORT: 2012 Was Worst Year for Whooping Cough Since 1955

UPDATED Friday, January 4, 2013--5:50p.m.
MADISON--The year 2012 will be remembered for many things, including being the worst in more than half a decade for Pertussis, commonly called whooping cough.

Nationwide the number of cases was the highest it's been since the mid-1950s. And topping the list of states worst hit is Wisconsin.

Nationwide, the number of whooping cough cases in 2012 hit 42,000.

"It primarily is a very severe cough, to the point that people actually vomit," described Cheryl Robinson, of Public Health Madison and Dane County.

We're told that in Dane County alone there were likely more than 600 cases of the disease. "Pertussis comes in waves and every few years there's another outbreak," said Robinson. "And this was one of those years, 2012 was, and it really peaked over the summer. And it has gone down gradually from month to month, fortunately, but we've still got plenty of cases around."

Robinson said they they recommend everyone get the Tdap vaccine; one of the things it protects against is Pertussis.

The illness can be very severe for babies. "They often are hospitalized and sometimes even die from the illness," said Robinson. She said it's especially important for pregnant women and anyone that may be spending time around babies to get immunized, to avoid becoming carriers for the disease and spreading it to kids. "A woman every time she gets pregnant should have the Pertussis vaccine," said Robinson. She said that helps protect mom--but also passes along some immunity to the baby.

Posted Friday, January 4, 2013 --- 12:06 p.m.

Health officials say 2012 was the nation's worst year for whooping cough in nearly six decades.

About 42,000 cases were reported last year, the most since 1955. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is still gathering information, and the number could rise to as much as 50,000.

Whooping cough tends to run in multi-year cycles, and experts say last year appears to have been a peak. Also, a newer version of the whooping cough vaccine doesn't last as long as expected.

The good news: Deaths from the disease were down last year, to 18. Experts think that doctors were faster at diagnosing and treating the disease during outbreaks.

Whopping cough used to be a bigger problem until a vaccine was developed in the 1940s.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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