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Whooping cough detected in Montgomery County; what you need to know

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Montgomery County's Office of Public Health is investigating an increase in whooping cough cases primarily among high school students, a county spokesperson told CBS News Philadelphia on Monday.

It's unclear at this time how many cases were identified at the Montgomery County high schools that reported cases. 

Montgomery County officials said the whooping cough vaccine, although effective, does wane with time for those who received the shot during childhood which is why the majority of the cases they're monitoring are among high schoolers.  

The county reminds anyone who thinks they've been exposed to the whooping cough and are coughing to contact their healthcare provider. 

What is whooping cough?

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection spread by respiratory droplets, according to the Montgomery County Office of Public Health. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said symptoms typically develop within five to 10 days after coming into contact with the bacteria that causes it. However, in some cases, symptoms can develop as late as three weeks after initial contact with the bacteria. 

Early symptoms present the same as common cold symptoms. These symptoms can last between one to two weeks and normally include a stuffy nose, low-grade fever, mild cough, apnea and cyanosis, per the CDC. 

The second stage of whopping cough symptoms starts after the initial one to two-week period. The CDC said this is when rapid, violent coughing fits, or paroxysms, develop which can last anywhere between one to 10 weeks. 

The paroxysms can cause people to make a high-pitched whooping sound at the end of the coughing fit when they can finally breathe, throw up, feel more tired and struggle to breathe. 

How can you prevent whooping cough? 

Although immunity does decrease with time, the whooping cough vaccination is an effective way to prevent respiratory infections that can lead to hospitalization and death. 

According to the CDC, people who contract whooping cough and are vaccinated have a shorter cough, fewer coughing fits, whopping and vomiting.

Montgomery County officials also advise people who live in areas where whooping cough is on the rise to confirm their family's vaccinations are up-to-date. 

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