PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Taylor Allderdice High School has 12 cases of whooping cough.

“There is a contagion going on in that community, that school community, and our job is to do whatever we can to stop the spread of the condition,” says Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Karen Hacker.

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One pediatrician in Squirrel Hill is seeing many of the cases.

“We started seeing kids around a month ago,” says Dr. David Wolfson of Children’s Community Pediatrics. “The people initially in the last month have presented with weeks of coughing, and difficulty at nighttime in particular.”

These students had all been vaccinated. But vaccines aren’t perfect.

“This particular vaccination, over time, does wear down in its effect,” explains Dr. Wolfson.

Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection.

It’s spread through the air, and classically, you’ll have a severe, uncontrollable cough, though in some cases it might be a milder cough that lasts more than a week. It can be fatal in babies.

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The Allegheny County Health Department says seeing 12 cases in one month is not unusual, and peaks in this illness come and go.

Allegheny County had more than 200 cases two years ago, and fewer than 50 last year.

“This year we’ve had about 25 so far, so we’re kind of on track,” says Dr. Hacker.

Treatment with antibiotics limits the spread.

“I know there’s going to be anxiety. We want to allay those fears. We haven’t seen an uptick in any other schools,” Dr. Hacker says. “When school lets out, we’re going to hear a lot less about this.”

Cases have been identified in grades 9, 10, and 11 at Taylor Allderdice High School. They are all expected to recover.


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