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Whooping Cough On The Rise in W.Va.

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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

West Virginia health officials are reporting a spike in the disease commonly known as whooping cough.

According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) reports 52 confirmed cases of pertussis in West Virginia so far this year. That's up from 18 cases last year and 19 cases in 2013.

Symptoms include uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths which result in a "whooping" sound. Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, the state health commissioner, says outbreaks of the contagious respiratory disease tend to occur in three- to five-year cycles. There were 168 cases in 2010.

The DHHR has sent an advisory to health-care providers across the state alerting them to look for symptoms of pertussis and coordinate with local health officials in testing for suspected cases.

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