Highly Contagious Whooping Cough Reported In Vaccinated Georgia Children

Feb 7, 2019

Recently confirmed cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in North Georgia have some residents questioning whether the vaccine is effective.

A spokeswoman for the North Georgia Health District said a limited number of cases of whooping cough were reported in Cherokee County, and the children related to these cases were vaccinated for pertussis.

In 2018, there were six confirmed cases of pertussis in the six-county health district, four of which were in Cherokee County.

"It is not common, but it is possible to get pertussis even if properly vaccinated," spokeswoman Jennifer King said.

Whooping cough, which is caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, is highly contagious and health officials recommend vaccination because the cough can cause serious illness in babies, children, teens and adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within 5 to 10 days after you are exposed, but sometimes pertussis symptoms do not develop for as long as 3 weeks, the CDC said.

The state DPH said more than 200 cases of pertussis/whooping cough were reported in 2018.

Preliminary data looks like we’ll end up right around 210 cases,” spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said.

In 2017, Georgia had 252 cases of pertussis, with 38 cases in Gwinnett County and 28 cases in Fulton County.

"We continue to urge the public to maintain their scheduled immunizations for all vaccine-preventable diseases over the course of their lifetime," King said.

The CDC immunization schedules from infants to adults are available online here.