ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After 32 whooping cough cases were discovered at a high school in Albuquerque, officials began urging parents to get their teens a booster shot to stop the spread of the illness.
Whooping cough is also known as pertussis, and according to the Mayo Clinic it is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Before the vaccine was developed, whooping cough was considered a childhood disease. Now it mostly affects infants too young to have completed the full course of vaccinations, and teenagers and adults whose immunity has faded.
“The most recent shots that’ve been developed for teenagers just have been around for the last several years," said Dr. Chad Smelser, an epidemiologist with the New Mexico Department of Health. He added that those provide booster doses for kids between the ages of 11 and 19.
Smelser said pregnant women can also be protected with a shot that inoculates their babies from exposure when they’re born.
Even though New Mexico had more than 900 cases of whooping cough last year, most states have seen a decline in the number of cases in 2013.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Portions of this story come from the Mayo Clinic's definition of whooping cough. It is our policy to give full and accurate attribution in all of our news stories. We regret our failure to do so in this case.
Updated 11/21/2013 at 3:46 p.m.