The United States is in the midst of the worst epidemic of pertussis, or whooping cough, in more than 50 years, and Allegheny County is mirroring the national trend.
Nationwide, the outbreak is startling: 32,000 cases reported as of Oct. 24, along with 16 deaths, most of them infants. The all-time recorded peak was in 1959, with 40,000 cases.
In Allegheny County, the incidence has almost quadrupled: 201 cases so far this year compared with 51 cases in all of 2011. Patients have ranged from babies to those in their 70s, but most have been 12 or 13.
Megan Casey, nurse epidemiologist at the Allegheny County Health Department, said the local incidence peaked in June; the number of cases showing up now are back to normal levels. No one has died, she said, although seven have been hospitalized.