300 Amish people got shots for whooping cough

Published: May. 22, 2017 at 5:35 PM CDT
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Two babies are hospitalized from a outbreak of whooping cough in the Amish community in Webster County. County health officials now are trying to control the spread of the disease.

The whooping cough outbreak has been going on for at least a couple of weeks in the Amish community near Seymour, even leading to the hospitalization of two babies.

“They can get severely ill with pertussis that they don't have the ability of coughing anything up, and it also affects their respiratory system, and they can go with apnea, go with periods of not breathing at all,” said Terre Banks, administrator of the Webster County Health Unit.

Six cases are confirmed, while there are many more possible cases in the Amish community along Highway C.

“The challenge came because you have to go to them; they don't really have the means to hear or see about it through the news, the media,” said Banks.

The Webster County Health Unit used word of mouth and set up an immunization clinic at a country store last week. In two days, they vaccinated more than 300 adults and children.

“We're hoping that our actions and our control measures really counteracted against the spread of it. They told us what was going on,” said Banks.

Pharmacist Rebecca Kime at Downtown Drug in Seymour started hearing the signature cough about a week ago.

“Yep, we have; a lot of Purell, lot of Lysol wipe-downs,” said Kime.

At Downtown Drug, the antibiotic used to treat whooping cough has been flying out the door. Just in the past week, they've handed out about 200 prescriptions for Azithromycin.

“They also were treating all the children in the family, and sometimes you've got 13, 14 kids in a family,” said Kime.

The favored herbal treatment has also sold out. While they're happy to serve the Amish community, Rebecca hopes to see less of them soon.

“We'd like everybody to be healthy!” said Kime.

So far, no confirmed cases are outside the Amish community, and health officials have not even seen any cases in the Amish community along Highway A.