NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - A spike in Pertussis cases at Northampton High School has health officials there concerned.
Health officials have confirmed 52 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, in Northampton; the majority of them are at the high school.
Northampton's Public Health Director, Meredith O'Leary, says this is a cluster of cases, not an epidemic or an outbreak, because they are localized at the high school. Pertussis is live in the nose, mouth and throat, and can be sprayed into the air when a person who is infected sneezes or coughs. Health officials say you usually get the vaccine before entering the school system. But the efficiency rate of the vaccine varies from 80-85%.
"Immunity will wane, and with the efficiency rate, what could be why there's an increase in cases at that age; at the high school age like we are looking at," O'Leary said.
Pertussis cases have more than doubled in the state from 2011 to 2012. O'Leary says that parents should make sure children between the ages of 12 and 13 get their booster shoots before entering high school. Those graduating high school should get the boosters before going to college.
Health officials are also advising adults to get the vaccine, especially those who live with young children. For an infant, whooping cough can be deadly.