Three Hudson Valley infants have been diagnosed with a very contagious disease that officials fear is spreading again across New York.

The Sullivan County Public Health Department has confirmed three unrelated cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, among children less than 2 years of age in different geographic regions of the Sullivan County

Health Advisory: Pertussis Confirmed in Sullivan County

Father wiping daughter's nose with handkerchief

“The confirmed patients and their close contacts are being treated,” Sullivan County Public Health Director Nancy McGraw stated. “We are working to identify exposures and any other cases to try to limit further spread.”

More information about the three children was not released.

In 2016, Sullivan County had 36 confirmed cases of whooping cough. The next year that number was down to seven. However, health officials are worried it could be spreading again in the county and across New York State.

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"Pertussis has not been an issue of concern for several years, but we are now seeing the potential for another large increase of cases due to Statewide concerns about a lack of immunizations or delayed immunizations among children," McGraw added.

What Is Pertussis?

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Pertussis (whooping cough) is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by cough. It's called whooping cough because of the whooping sound people make when gasping for air after a coughing fit.

This highly contagious disease usually begins with the same symptoms as the common cold. A patient's cough typically becomes worse over a week or two, with coughing fits producing a "whooping" sound.

Babies and young children have the greatest chances of dying from whooping cough. The best way to protect yourself is to be vaccinated, officials say.

Whooping cough spreads through the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, and anyone exposed to it can get sick. Infected people are most contiguous during the first two weeks after the cough begins.


"Pertussis is highly communicable, with a secondary attack rate of 80% among susceptible household contacts. Complications of pertussis in infants (under a year old) can include pneumonia, seizures, encephalopathy or death," health officials state. "Babies often catch it from siblings, parents, grandparents, and other members of their extended family."

It can take up to 42 days to catch the virus, with an average incubation period of 4 to 21 days, according to health officials.

Preventive Actions

Health officials say children in a prekindergarten setting should be immunized.


"The DTaP vaccine is required for children entering school in New York State. Children starting the series on time should receive a 5-dose series of DTaP vaccine at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 through 18 months and at 4 years or older. The fourth dose may be received as early as age 12 months, provided at least 6 months have elapsed since the third dose," Sullivan County stated in a press release. "Sullivan County Public Health provides a monthly immunization clinic on the second Tuesday of every month from 3-6 p.m."

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