DENVER (CBS4)– There have been nearly five times more cases of whooping cough in Colorado this year.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, results in a wheezing cough that can leave a child gasping for air. It can be deadly, especially for infants.
“It’s something that is very concerning to us,” said Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokeswoman Dr. Wendy Bamberg.
In recent years the Colorado Department of Health usually sees an average of 153 cases of whooping cough. This year there are already 715 cases that have been reported.
“We see increases and then decreases every three to five years and then it increases again. Our last big years were 2004 and 2005 so we were overdue for another increase of pertussis,” said Bamberg.
The Colorado Department of Health is urging anyone who has contact with children, especially infants, to be immediately vaccinated.
“That includes parents, other care givers, that might include grandparents, siblings, nannies, anybody who is really going to have contact with that infant,” said Bamberg.
“It’s crucial that these people caring for those children have these vaccines,” said Healthy Child Care Colorado spokeswoman Linda Satkowiak.
Healthy Child Care Colorado is a state initiative that works through Qualistar, a child care resource for parents and day care providers.
Satkowiak said getting the word out about immunizations is the best defense.
“It’s very alarming. This is a disease that should be well controlled because of the immunizations that are available to the children,” said Satkowiak.
Under health care reform, insurance companies are now required to cover immunizations as part of preventative care.