NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York health officials on Wednesday reported a sharp spike in cases of whooping cough, a potentially fatal illness that has been on the rise around the country this year, and urged people to get vaccinated.
Preliminary figures reported by New York's Health Department found 970 cases so far in 2012 of the highly contagious disease pertussis, or whooping cough, an infection that produces an intense cough that lasts weeks and can lead to pneumonia, an inability to breathe or death.
The whooping cough often begins with cold-like symptoms like sneezing, a runny nose, or a fever and is accompanied by a mild cough that becomes more severe in the first or second week. Coughing fits are often followed by a high-pitched whoop, giving the illness its name.The pertussis vaccine, a five-shot series referred to as DTaP, is recommended for children at ages 2, 4, 6 and 18-months, and at 4 to 6 years old. READ MORE "There is no way in hell I would vaccinate my kid when I have silver!"beinki