Whooping cough outbreak could get worse as school starts - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Whooping cough outbreak could get worse as school starts


As children head back to school, they may be more likely to get whooping cough. Experts say this is one of the worst outbreaks in state history.

According to the state's health department, there have been more than 3,000 confirmed pertussis cases in Wisconsin so far. That's almost double all of last year and that number is expected to climb.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a violent cough that's quite painful to children.

"When it affects children, they tend to get sicker. It can be a serious disease in young children and can lead to death," Dr. Ellen Schumann from Ministry St. Claire's Hospital in Weston said.

As the school year quickly approaches, health care leaders expect the number of whopping cough cases to rise.

"In school, you're in closed areas, sitting next to people. That's when you can get it," Wood County Health Department nurse Joaine Kuennen said.

Doctors say adults could be to blame for this year's extreme outbreak.

"Our immunity as we go into teenager-hood and adulthood drops off dramatically. So most adults are very susceptible to whooping cough," Schumann said.

In turn, those adults can expose the disease to children, who may not be fully protected. That's why doctors urge parents to get their children and themselves vaccinated.

"We're seeing more and more cases of whopping cough in our kids. We need to get rid of where it's coming from," Schumann said.

Doctors say it will only get worse when school starts.

"Part of what happens in school is that we put all of those people inside buildings together, breathing the same air. So all the adults that are in there have an easy way to spread the disease to the school age kids," Schumann said.

"We want to make sure everyone stays protected," Kuennen said.


Wood Co. Immunization Days: http://www.co.wood.wi.us/Departments/Health/

Marathon Co. Health Dept. http://www.co.marathon.wi.us/Departments/HealthDepartment.aspx

WI Dept. of Health Services: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/immunization/pertussis.htm





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