"Significant increase" in whooping cough cases - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

"Significant increase" in whooping cough cases

STEVENS POINT (WAOW) – Health departments in four central Wisconsin counties have experienced a “significant increase” in confirmed cases of whooping cough in children at several schools, authorities said Thursday.

Whooping cough, also called Pertussis, produces cold-like symptoms with a mild cough progressing to severe coughing. If left untreated, a person can spread the disease for up to three weeks.

Gary Garske, health officer in Portage County, said that since Nov. 1 increased cases of the disease have occurred in Clark, Marathon, Portage and Wood counties.

We are not in an epidemic. We are in an outbreak,” he said. “It has been ebbing and flowing. We are back to high numbers this fall.”

Alerts are being issued to let parents know that if their child has a chronic cough, the family doctor should be contacted, Garske said.

Kids who have been up to date on their immunizations are still coming down with Pertussis,” he said. “Parents are having a false sense of security.”

Infants and people with a weakened immune system like cancer have the highest risk of complications and may need hospitalization.

Portage County has had at least 20 confirmed cases of whooping cough since Nov. 1, Garske said.

Early symptoms resemble those of a cold – runny nose and mild cough – and the cough eventually worsens and vomiting can occur, the health official said.

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