ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)–Anne Arundel County Department of Health is warning parents about a rise in whooping cough cases.

Tracey Leong has the details.

The health department sent out letters to all the public and private schools in the county explaining why it’s important to take extra steps to protect against this life threatening infection.

Health experts are seeing an increase in middle and high school students with whooping cough across Anne Arundel County.

“It can be a little worrying but I protect her from all the craziness and we keep all the germs at bay for as much as possible,” said one mother.

County health officials say there’s several reasons why we’re seeing a rise in cases.

“Better reporting to public health departments in addition to unfortunately waning, or declining immunity from the vaccine itself,” said Dr. David Rose, Deputy Health Officer.

The vaccine provides 98-percent protection, but starts to become less effective after five years.

“Important for the entire community to be aware so children could get appropriate immunizations, teenagers could get boosters and frankly adults could get their vaccine if they haven’t received a tetanus booster with a whooping cough or pertussis component,” said Rose.

Early symptoms last about two weeks and include a runny nose, fever, mild cough and pause in breathing.

As the disease progresses, it can get much worse–lasting up to ten weeks.

“It’s that very quick breathing in of air so you get that whoop sound for you, but that happens back to back especially at night and it can be so severe in the terms of the force of the cough you have cracked ribs broken blood vessels in the eyes,” said Rose.

Parents are thankful the health department took a proactive role in notifying them early.

“I think it’s good, because if we don’t know anything about it there’s no way to protect our kids and other kids,” said Donna Hopkins.

Infants, pregnant women and adults older than 65 are at higher risk for complications from the disease.

The disease can be spread through sneezing or close contact and treated with antibiotics.

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