PADUCAH — Whooping cough can be deadly for babies and tough on adults, too. In Kentucky, there have been eight confirmed cases this year.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a rise in cases in Kentucky and a decrease in vaccinations.
Crystal Knight is a nurse at the Purchase District Health Department. She said whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that gives off a signature harsh cough. That cough can be so aggressive that it can cause vomiting, she said.
It's spread via coughing and sneezing. She said the best way to prevent it is by getting the Tdap vaccine. Babies are more susceptible, but adults can catch it if they have not gotten their booster shot.
"A lot of people don't get that one, Tdap, as an adult, so their immunity to the whooping cough has waned over time, and they're more susceptible," Knight said.
Another way to prevent whooping cough is to make sure that if you have a cough, you're coughing into your elbows and washing your hands to prevent the spread of germs.
The latest CDC data show that from 2017 to 2018, the number of Tdap vaccinations decreased by 1.4%. The number of cases of whooping cough increased to more than 10 cases per 100,000 people.
Knight said the lack of vaccines for adults and a false sense of security is contributing to this increase.
"If your child was the one that couldn't have the immunization, you would want everyone else around them to have it," Knight said. "And to keep them in mind that you're doing it for your child, because you don't want them to get this disease."
She said the cough can be painful for both babies and adults, so she hopes more people make the effort to prevent it.
Knight said if you're an adult and aren't sure if you've gotten your Tdap shot, go get it done. And if a child is in school and has already had their immunizations, they should be up to date.