Whooping Cough Warning in Mecklenburg County

Public Health leaders are seeing a worrisome trend, an increase in pertussis or whooping cough cases in Mecklenburg County. Some counties in the western part of North Carolina are seeing outbreaks of pertussis.

“We are seeing isolated cases in Mecklenburg County, and we want our residents to understand that pertussis is here, and we need to be cautious,” said Dr. Raynard Washington, Mecklenburg County Public Health director. “The increase in cases is an important reminder that vaccination is the single most effective way to prevent pertussis and reduce the severity of the disease. Unvaccinated people in the community create the opportunity for the disease to spread, even to vaccinated individuals.”

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can cause severe coughing fits, especially in infants and young children. While the disease can be serious for anyone, it can be life-threatening for babies too young to be fully vaccinated, immunocompromised individuals, and pregnant women. Residents should contact their health care provider to get vaccinated. Mecklenburg County Public Health also provides immunizations for uninsured residents.

Thus far in 2024, nine confirmed cases and one suspected case of pertussis were reported to MCPH. No hospitalizations or deaths were reported. All cases are under the age of 17, and the majority were not up to date with vaccines, though some were.  

Pertussis/Whooping Cough Symptoms:

  • Severe coughing fits that make it hard to breathe, eat, or sleep
  • Whooping sound after a cough
  • Vomiting after coughing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Low-grade fever (may not be present)

Importance of Vaccination:

Vaccination with DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) vaccine is the best way to prevent pertussis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following DtaP vaccination schedule for children:

  • Four doses at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15-18 months of age
  • A booster dose at 4-6 years of age
  • A dose of Tdap at 11-12 years of age

Adults should also be vaccinated with Tdap. This helps protect adults and adolescents from pertussis and prevents them from spreading the disease to others, especially infants.


  • Get vaccinated: If you or your child is not up to date on your DtaP or Tdap vaccinations, contact your healthcare provider to schedule an appointment.
  • Stay home when sick: If you are sick, especially with a cough, stay home from work or school to avoid spreading the illness to others. Do not send children to childcare or school while exhibiting any of the above symptoms, especially with a cough.  
  • Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands frequently and cover your coughs and sneezes to help prevent the spread of germs.

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