Nightly News   |  September 06, 2013

Disturbing reemergence of whooping cough

16 states are reporting an increase in cases of whooping cough, a disease that used to be a leading cause of childhood illness and death. NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> our health news story tonight had has to do with the disturbing reemergence of a disease that used to be a leading cause of childhood illness and death. as you may know, in the state of texas , they're reporting an epidemic of whooping cough , and in all 16 states are now reporting an increase in cases over last year's numbers. we get this story tonight from our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman .

>> reporter: 3 1/2-month-old bailey frederickson's mom michelle thought her baby just had a cold. then things got worse.

>> she'd cough and she'd just start turning blue, and her face would be really gray.

>> reporter: bailey had whooping cough , a highly infectious disease that may begin with a runny nose, sneezing and slight fever.

>> whooping cough can rapidly become a whole lot more serious with severe cough, the development of pneumonia that can lead to a need more hospitalizati hospitalization.

>> reporter: bailey is one of about 2,000 people in texas who has had whooping cough so far this year. two babies have died. the numbers so alarming the state is now under a health alert with people being urged to get vaccinated. here in blue you can see where whooping cough cases have increased compared to the same time last year. doctors say vaccination is key. pregnant women should get vaccinated in the third trimester of pregnancy so antibodies in mom can then protect the baby at birth and for the first few months of life. vaccinate family members and caregivers, make sure your child gets all the doses of the vaccine. at 2, 4 and 6 months, another between 15 and 18 months and a booster between 4 and 6 years. that's five doses in all. bailey is on antibiotics, a common treatment and is expected to recover. but officials warn that if vaccination rates don't increase, other babies may not be as lucky. dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, new york.