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Updated Nov 14, 2013 - 6:21 am

Whooping cough outbreak concerns Arizona health officers

PHOENIX -- State health officials want you to go to the doctor to get vaccinated. It's because pertussis, which is also known as whooping cough, is going around.

Jessica Rigler of the Arizona Department of Health Services says that as of Nov. 7, Arizona has been slammed with about 12,000 cases of whooping cough in this latest outbreak.

"The Phoenix area has about 400 cases right now," said Rigler. "We've got a pretty large outbreak going on up north in Mohave County. They make up about 580 of the cases."

The disease is highly contagious, especially among school children. Two Tucson-area school districts are taking action. The Vail school district has banned unvaccinated children at one school from coming to class for up to two weeks. Students at Sycamore Elementary School who haven't had their shots may not be allowed back on campus for three weeks or more.

Rigler says that's a good idea.

"You really want to keep them home during the entire incubation period of the disease," she said. "If they were to catch pertussis, then they're home for that 21-day window to make sure they haven't contracted that disease in that time period."

The disease has several symptoms.

"It can't start with cold-like symptoms," said Rigler. "You might have a runny nose or a mild cough or mild fever. That cough can last up to 100 days, where it can become very severe with a whooping sound. People might vomit or become very tired after coughing."

She noted that it can be fatal in small children.

The best way to protect you and your family from Whooping cough is by going to your doctor and getting vaccinated. Rigler said you shouldn't have any problem doing that.

"We have pertussis vaccine, it's out in doctor's offices around the community," said Rigler. "We always recommend that you call your healthcare provider before to get the shot to make sure they have it in stock. But it's widely available."

Nationally, over 48,000 whooping cough cases were reported last year. That's the highest number since 1955.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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