MOON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — A Moon Township pediatric practice is getting lots of calls from concerned parents.

Two cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, has been found at two elementary schools in nearby Beaver County.

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“We actually have a fair number of patients who come from Beaver County,” says pediatrician Dr. Pamela Schoemer. “We’ve had parents who have certainly called, and been concerned because they know it’s in the community.”

The Allegheny County Health Department has not seen any unusual pertussis patterns, and Dr. Schoemer has not seen any current cases, but she’s on the lookout.

“We’ve done some testing, and we have some testing pending, but as of now, we don’t have any positive cases,” she says. “We could have more cases than we know.”

With whooping cough, children can get pneumonia and other infections as well. They can get dehydrated from not eating and drinking, and they can cough so hard they break ribs.

“Cough, cough, cough, until they run out of breath,” Dr. Schoemer says, “then have the characteristic whoop, which is how it gets its name.”

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And babies can actually stop breathing.

Dr. Schoemer says fewer immunized kids could contribute to more cases.

“Immunization is certainly not 100 percent effective, but it does decrease the amount of cases in our communities,” she says.

Whooping cough is a preventable illness.

Children are immunized at 2, 4, and 6 months, then again at a year and a half and around age 5. Adults 19 to 64 need a one-time booster, as do adults 65 and older if they will be in close contact with an infant.

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