Booster shots may be on horizon as whooping cough rises

Wednesday, July 14th 2004, 12:28 pm
By: News On 6

(Washington-AP) -- Whooping cough is making a dangerous comeback.

The vaccine given babies to wipe out the scourge starts wearing off by adolescence. And the government is deciding if it's time for booster shots.

This year, federal officials have counted outbreaks in eleven states, including one in the Chicago area that has sickened more than 100 people since March.

People afflicted with whooping cough can break a rib. It can kill infants who haven't been vaccinated. Older patients usually recover, but can spread the disease.

Known as pertussis(per-TUSS'-is), whooping cough is a bacterial infection. It triggers fits of 15 to 20 consecutive coughs that leave victims gasping for air.

Cases plummeted in industrialized nations after vaccinations began in the 1940's. It's on the increase worldwide, partly due to waning immunity.