PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Health officials are sending out warnings after the number of Whooping Cough cases has doubled the yearly average.

Just last week North Allegheny parents got the word a student at North Allegheny High School had been diagnosed with Pertussis – better known as Whooping Cough.

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Just before Thanksgiving a similar notice was put out by the Pine Richland schools.

The Allegheny County Health Department says those districts are far from alone.

Many districts have had incidents of Pertussis this year and overall Allegheny County is way ahead of the yearly average.

So far there have been 140 confirmed cases compared to an average 66 each year over the past ten years.

In fact health department Epidemiologist Dr. Kristen Mertz says the last three years have seen significant increases, “We think we’re having more cases among high school age kids because the vaccine does pretty good for a few years then the immunity tends to wane.”

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Dr. Mertz says after the initial wave of vaccines given when the child is a baby there should be a booster at 4-6 years of age, another at age 11, and then as an adult.

Since “ babies are the most vulnerable” the health department says pregnant women should get the vaccine during their third trimester, and anyone who will be in contact with the baby – dad, grandparents – should also be vaccinated to insure a cocoon of protection around the child.

While most teenagers and adults will recover with proper treatment, Pertussis can be fatal if left untreated.

The diagnosis of Pertussis often doesn’t occur until the patient is two three weeks into the cough and by then they have already been contagious and could have spread the disease.

Dr. Mertz says the earlier the diagnosis the better and everyone in the family should be treated.

“You treat it with antibiotics,” says Dr. Mertz. “It’s a five day course of antibiotics and during that time the patient should not go to work, or to school, and should stay home.”

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