Whooping cough had struck 1,920 state residents outside New York City this year as of Aug. 31, said Peter Constantakes, a spokesman for the state Health Department. In 2010, 721 cases were reported.
The rising incidence has several possible explanations. One is waning immunity among people who haven’t had their immunizations updated. Another reason could be that the disease appears to run in three- to five-year cycles, Constantakes said. And yet another is that, in adults, the symptoms are easily confused with other diseases.
“An adult can get pertussis and maybe not know it,” Constantakes said. “They’ll get a cough and just figure, ‘This is a bad cough.’”
The bacteria live in the back of the throats and in the noses of people, Kjolhede said.
“So, there are always people walking around with the bacteria,” he said. “You never complete eradicate it from the environment. We need to continue to be vigilant and immunize the population again it.”
“If you are an adult who will be coming into contact with children before they go to kindergarten … you need to get vaccinated,” he added.
Whooping cough is not seasonal. Antibiotic treatment for its victims only serves to make an individual case less contagious, Kjolhede said.
Otsego County had nine cases as of Aug. 31, Delaware had four and Chenango and Schohaies counties had six apiece, Constantakes said.