County experiences increase in cases of pertussis
Portage County Health and Human Services – Division of Public Health said in a press release it has seen an increase in the number of cases of pertussis, also known as “whopping cough.”
Pertussis continues to circulate in Portage County as well as throughout the state of Wisconsin. Parents are encouraged to make sure that they and their family members are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Most medical providers and local health departments have vaccine on hand.
Children normally receive a DTaP vaccine, providing protection against pertussis, at 2, 4, 6 and 12-15 months of age, and a booster dose at 4-6 years of age, said Gary Garske, Portage County Health officer.
“Some parents may not realize that another booster dose (called Tdap), is now required for children at 11 years of age. This one-time booster is also recommended for adults who have not had a pertussis vaccine since childhood.” Garske said. “Because young infants are at highest risk for serious disease with pertussis, it is particularly important that expectant or new parents be vaccinated, as well as grandparents and others who have close contact with young children.”
Pertussis usually begins with mild upper respiratory symptoms, such as runny nose and mild cough, with little or no fever. It then progresses to a more severe cough, with spasms of coughing which may cause vomiting.
Some, but not all individuals, will actually make a whooping sound as they take a breath between coughing spasms. This is how pertussis came to be called “whooping cough.”
Antibiotics are used to help decrease contagiousness in people with pertussis and can be used to help prevent infection in close contacts, but they do not “cure” the illness and symptoms may last for six to 10 weeks.
Complications of pertussis in older children and adults may include pneumonia and rib fractures. As noted above, young infants are most at risk for severe disease and complications such as pneumonia, seizures and in rare cases, death.
Unfortunately, it can be up to three weeks between the time someone is infected with pertussis and the time they actually develop symptoms, so when one new case is identified in the community, additional cases are likely to emerge over the subsequent weeks. Individuals with symptoms of pertussis are generally most contagious in the first two weeks of illness.
“The best way to protect your family is to make sure that everyone in the household is up-to-date on their pertussis vaccinations,” Garske said. “It is also important to have your child seen by a healthcare provider, if he/she is sick with a cough, before sending him/her to school.”
Individuals should call their healthcare provider or the health department, to see if they or their children are due for a pertussis vaccine or to make an appointment to be vaccinated.