Whooping Cough Outbreak Spreads On Long Island; More Than 200 Cases Reported

Health Officials: Early Detection, Antibiotic Treatment Are Keys To Better Health

LINDENHURST, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An alarming rise in a potentially fatal bacterial infection known as whooping cough has prompted a warning from the Suffolk County Health Department.

It’s a tell-tale sign winter is coming — children and their colds.

But what’s going around this year is a potentially fatal bacterial cough known as pertussis or whooping cough, reports CBS 2’s Emily Smith.

It’s a chronic cough, almost a barking sound, that can last more than three months, and it is spread easily through droplets.

“My wife is on a bus, educational bus, so she is with kids all the time every day. But she hasn’t been sick yet,” local resident Steven Piering said Tuesday.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs On The Story

The whooping cough outbreak started with 13 cases in Smithtown on Long Island in June. Since then it has spread to more than a dozen districts in Suffolk County.

The most recent case of whooping cough involves a student at 5th Avenue Elementary in Northport, where 11 cases have already been reported. On Tuesday night, parents told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez they are growing concerned.

“That’s kind of scary. I wonder what’s going on, why this outbreak started. What’s going on?” one resident asked.

“They get colds at home. They bring it on the bus. They bring it to school. They’re bringing it home,” a school bus driver told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

And what’s particularly concerning to health officials is this most recent outbreak has the highest number of cases reported since 2006 when there were 110 for the year. Now it’s 216 cases of whooping cough for the year so far.

What’s causing this sudden and sharp rise in whooping cough has yet to be determined, said Dr. Dennis Russo with the Suffolk County Health Department. He said it might be as simple as more doctors are detecting and diagnosing it, or it could be an increase in some parents’ decision to forgo vaccinating their kids.

“We like to have everyone vaccinated and create a cocoon effect, so that everyone around them is vaccinated and the disease is milder,” Dr. Russo said.

“I’m not too concerned because my son has the vaccine,” added Maria Sangiorgi of Lindenhurst.

Health officials said early detection and antibiotic treatment are the keys to better health and preventing the spread of whooping cough.

The majority of the students who have been infected with whooping cough had been immunized, which health officials said may account for their milder illness.

Babies who are not yet fully immunized are the most at risk of death from the infection.

Have you or someone you know ever had whooping cough? What was it like? Please share your story in the comments section below.

  • Patrick Hunter, MD General Pediatrician

    “In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it, my example showing that the regret may be the same either way and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.” –Benjamin Franklin

    “It is unnatural for a mother to bury her child” — me

    The first quote puts a very personal and historic perspective on vaccines and the dangers of vaccine preventable diseases. Thankfully, due to vaccines smallpox has been eradicated from the face of the earth.

    The second statement by me, may on the face of it seem to be true, but it has been true only for the last 70 to 100 years. In the history of mankind, even when the only feeding option was breast milk and all of its well known benefits, parents regularly buried their children. It was all too common for children to die in infancy. Only in the last two to three generations have we had the safety and luxury to choose to have a few children, knowing they will, with great certainty, live to be adults.

    Addressing one common thread: Vaccine immunity to pertussis DOES wane over time. This has been a known fact for a long time and is why booster doses for adolescents and adults were recommended about ten years ago. It is also known that children and adults generally do “well” (don’t die from pertussis) and “only” cough for months, even with antibiotic treatment—which can decrease the spread of pertussis but has little impact on the course of the illness once the cough starts.

    Infants do worse with pertussis and can die from it, often when they are too young to have benefited from the vaccine. Hence the importance of herd immunity and the need to re-vaccinate older children and adults to prevent exposure to the youngest, most vulnerable children — the very ones parents used to bury when they died of pertussis. I think a total of 12 infants died from pertussis last winter in California.

    Pertussis vaccine immunity does wane, hence the need for a booster. But Haemophilis Influenza Type B (HIB) immunity from vaccination does not wane over time. Infection with HIB by the actual bacteria does not always confer lifelong immunity. It wanes and children once infected with HIB can be infected again. (Thankfully this dreaded infection occurs very, very rarely now, due to the vaccine that was introduced.)

    My point being that we cannot generalize about the immunity conferred by vaccines, as some on this thread have. Some confer better immunity than others, the difference between HIB and pertussis the prime example. That does not make a vaccine good or bad. All vaccines are better and safer than the actual disease they prevent

    In my experience there are two types of parents who are concerned about vaccines.

    There are those that are confused, searching and worried about vaccines based on what they see and read in the media, think Larry King, Jenny McCarthy and others.

    Then there are the conspiracy theorists, worried about people who are purposely out to control the world and hurt children while they are at it.

    I think both groups want to do best by their children, an admirable trait I think most everyone who has kids possesses.

    For those who are confused, may I suggest two websites? One is the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the other is The History of Vaccines. I think these two sites will help people understand how safe and effective vaccines are and will give you some perspective on how good a times we live in. Parents no longer bury their children and to a large part we can thank vaccines for that.

    In regards to autism, the paper that Andrew Wakefield published in The Lancet in 1988 was fraudulent. The research was fabricated by Wakefield. Parents have stopped vaccinating children against measles because of him. Measles has returned and children have died from it.

    For those interested please Google Andrew Wakefield and Brain Deere for more information. Brian Deere is a reporter for the London Sunday Times and he uncovered much of the fraud perpetuated by Wakefield.

    Everyone has an agenda. I have an agenda. Brian Deere has an agenda. Andrew Wakefeild has an agenda. Anti-vaccine people have their agendas.

    The searching, confused parents who want to do best by their kids need to look at all the information—unfortunately there is tons of it, some good, some bad—and try to glean the agenda of the source—which is important to understand. Is their agenda self serving, or for the better good of children? Parents are than left to make what they believe is the best decision possible for their children. I wish them well, but encourage them to vaccinate for their child’s health and the communities health.

  • PK

    all children are vaccinated before school and at age 11 I have both of mine done and checke with the dr. I have asthma and they suggest I get a booster, howver I was told no drs have the adult vaccine because they have to order a whole case at about $1,000.00 and it expires so now where do I go for a booster shot? Are they going to offer vaccinations like they did for the H1N1 virus? Lets hear about that instead of it spreading. Come on CDC whats the story or NYS offer the vaccines for all.

    • Andrew

      These shots that give you a piece of mind are only that. they will not protect you against modern strains of the flu, whooping cough or any other evolving or mutating virus.

  • Rubynellie

    “The majority of the students who have been infected with whooping cough had been immunized.”

    This is NOT due to parents not vaccinating their children with an obviously ineffective vaccine.

    My unvaccinated child had pertussis last year (11 years old). We treated it naturally, with immune system support and lots of steam and rest. He did pretty much keep his daily schedule, though, for the 3 months the residual cough lasted. No one else in the family got it. Five others and NO ONE else got it who lived in close quarters with him. Explain that. It sure wasn’t because we were vaccinated!

  • David Wells

    Open borders to all the dregs of the third world and the result is……

  • Kris McLeod

    Our middle school had an outbreak of Whooping Couch in 2004 just after our 4th daughter was born. My 12 year old daughter was sitting in between two other students in class that were confirmed to have whooping cough. She also spent time playing on a sports team with one of those girls.

    When she contracted Whooping Cough we took her into visit Dr. Balsam in Eugene, OR, he refused to test her for Whooping Cough, even with these details. He was the on-call doctor for that day, we could not see our regular physician.

    It took multiple visits to other doctors before someone would admit that she had Whooping Cough. By this time there were a number of news articles in our area about Whooping Cough appearing at several local schools. The entire family was treated with antibiotics as a precaution because the baby was too young to have all of her shots. It took weeks and weeks before the coughing phase ended.

    We learned several things from our experience.

    1. That Dr. Balsam is a doctor I would never have our family visit again.
    2. Children should have a booster vaccine around the age of 10 for Whooping Cough.
    3. The test for Whooping Cough only works in a narrow field of time. You can still have it and test negative if too much time has passed.
    4. Once you hear the cough from children, you will never forget the sound. The cough seems different than normal cold/flu coughs. It’s long, and often has a sound like it’s name “whoop”.

  • Fed Up

    And this is what you get when no one is allowed to verify that a child and parents are legal when signing up for school. Teachers have to be drug tested and get all kinds of clearances but anyone can sign up kids for school with no proof of citizenship and they don’t have shots when coming in from elsewhere. AND I SHOULDN”T HAVE TO PAY FOR IT DAM IT. Get them out of here.


    My family just got through whooping cough. It was not fun. My kids (10, 7, & 5) have not been vaccinated. My wife and I are not hippies, we are strong conservatives. The kids in church that we contracted WC from were vaccinated and had it worse than mine did. The doctors refused to test for WC even when we told them what it was. Funny thing is that my wife never got it but the rest of us did. My two oldest kids had it the worst (coughing until vomiting). I spent over a month with first one daughter then the other having them sleep in a chair with a bucket nearby listening to them cough until their face turned red, started whooping for breath and often vomited. For me, I would cough until I had a splitting headache for about 10 minutes then it would go away. It is hard to diagnose, because it is just like a common cold early on but the damage the pertussis causes is that it wipes out (fries/kills) all of your cilia (the little hairs that move the mucus through your respitory system). It takes 6 to 9 months to fully replace those cilia. That is why the cough lasts so long. My wife (God bless her) immediately started researching once we knew what we had. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THERE IS A TREATMENT THAT ALLEVIATES THE COUGH TO A MUCH MORE MILDER FORM. It is called sodium ascorbate vitamin C in heavy doses. You can’t od on it, although you can start to get diarhea if take too much. It is in a powder form, doesn’t cost that much and you just mix it in your drinking water several times a day. What it does is it thins your mucus making it easier to relieve the congestion. Once we started taking it, the symptoms lessened considerably and my 5 year old son barely had to deal with the worst part of WC. If you have WC, or are in an area where there is an outbreak (and you are vaccinated or not), I would highly recommend stocking up on this concentrated vit c for a couple of months. Plus its good for you in other ways as well.

  • rob6752a

    Could it be??? YES it can, This is brought in by ILLEGALS and other people that come here without being checked out.

    Years ago people came through Ellis Island and they were checked out but now the demoRats need votes so they herd them in as fast as they can import them in massive trucks or in tunnels. So lets all thank a demoRat.

  • jasperddbgghost

    NY = AIDS. It’s a crutch.

  • MMR

    Failure to immunize amounts to out-and-out child abuse, and endangerment of the rest of society. Period.

    Parents who fail to immunize their kids are literally threatening their lives and the health of people around them. That is all the more enraging to me because it is NEEDLESS, and a detestable action over which the child has no control and will not realize until later in life – when it may be too late.

    The now-disproven “studies” linking immunization to autism, and the idiotic anti-immunization movement constitute an increasing and alarming ignorance of the scientific method. (Go to Wikipedia.com and type in “scientific method”. They have a good description).

    There is nothing wrong with the scientific method, and there has never been. There most assuredly IS something wrong with the SCIENTISTS who deliberately misapply the scientific method for political reasons or their own personal gain.

    To those who refuse to immunize their kids, I say: Keep yourself and your kids the hell away from my family.

  • John Larson

    so what’s the chance the source is tied to illegal aliens?…pretty good I would say, but the MSM will never look for that

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