Whooping cough returns to Indian River County, St. Lucie County

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. -  Nathan Tillis isn't feeling so hot.

"My belly's achy.  It kinda hurts," said the fifth grader as he sits next to his mother.

Nathan's getting checked out at the Indian River County Health Department.

He and his mom hope it's nothing serious.

Indian River County has seen something serious resurface recently.  Five cases of whooping cough in the past six months.  Three were in adults, two in children, all unrelated. The St. Lucie County Health Department reported six cases — one lab-confirmed case and five probable cases — so far this year while the Martin County Health Department has reported none.

"Some of the cases of children are those that are too young or those who haven't been vaccinated," said Dr. Patricia Lewis.

Dr. Lewis is the Medical Executive Director for the Department of Health in Indian River County.

She says the germ involved causes a cough that lasts for weeks.

"There is a characteristic whoop at the end where the child is literally struggling to breathe," said Dr. Lewis.

Whooping cough ,or pertussis, can be transmitted from person to person , sometimes through cough droplets.

Dr. Lewis says because of that she's advising adults who are in constant contact with children to be immunized.

Whooping cough can be fatal in the very young.

"Now the push is that the hospital is vaccinating parents before they take the baby home," said Dr. Lewis.

Dr. Lewis says there's nothing to be alarmed about right now but public awareness is always good for public health.

Laurie K. Blandford Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, contributed to this report.

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