Whooping cough on the rise, how to keep your family safe

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RAPID CITY S.D. (KEVN TV) - So far this year 90 cases of whooping cough have been reported - that's the highest number in 4 years. Most of these cases are East River.

"The likelihood of someone coming in with a cough being pertussis, even thought it's on the rise it's just a small small fraction. The vast majority are going to be respiratory viruses that run their own course," says Dr. Stephen Dick the chief of emergency services at Rapid City Regional Hospital.

It's important to get vaccinated, especially if you're going to be around infants.

"They won't produce the cough, they don't have that characteristic whooping cough. They just have what's called apnea which means they stop breathing," says Dr. Dick.

The best precaution you can take, stay up to date on vaccines. Pertussis shots are given in doses at 2, 4, 6 and 15 months. As you get older pertussis is grouped with your tetanus shot.

"When you get your tetanus shot you'll get what's called a tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria booster and that's why that's added in there because there's a drift and your immunity starts to wear off," says Dr. Dick.

To protect yourself and your family wash your hands frequently, cover your cough or sneeze, and stay home if you're sick.