WAUSAU (WAOW)--The Marathon County Health Department reports an outbreak of Pertussis or Whooping Cough.
Epidemiologist, Ruth Marx, says they have seen an increase in cases during February, "As of today we have 23 cases. Of those 20 were reported in February." Most of the cases are in Mosinee and Wausau.
Whooping Cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection. It often begins with cold-like symptoms but can lead to severe coughing that causes children to make a distinctive whooping sound as they gasp for breath. In rare cases it can be fatal.
Health experts say the best prevention is vaccination. Many children undergo the series of shots to prevent Pertussis in early childhood. Doctors give the vaccines at 2,4,6, and 15-18 months of age and again at 4-6 years. A booster is needed at 11-12 years. Health experts say everyone needs a booster every 10 years thereafter.
Infants are at the highest risk of infection, since they haven't undergone the vaccine cycle.
I you suspect Whooping Cough, you should contact you doctor.