Whooping Cough Cases Up in Lincoln

Health officials are reporting an outbreak of whooping cough here in Nebraska. In 2002, there were nine confirmed cases. 2003 had sixteen. In 2004, the number jumped to 103.

Health officials say the outbreak has almost reached an epidemic level. Now they are studying the latest case in Lincoln hoping to find some answers. Doctors say it is very contagious. The symptoms resemble a cold with runny nose and fever. But, once you start to fell better, the cough continues. It can be so bad that they actually throw up. Sometimes they pull a muscle, break a blood vessel in the eyes, or even break a bone, like a rib. Whooping cough can be fatal for infants. There is a vaccine for kids under seven that lasts five to ten years. Doctors say the best way to avoid it is washing your hands. But, they say it's so contagious, that if you live with a person infected it will be close to impossible to avoid.