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Whooping cough cases hit Lake County record

ABOUT Pertussis (whooping cough)

The first symptoms are similar to those of a common cold accompanied by coughing. The cough gradually becomes severe and often progresses to coughing spasms, which can end in vomiting or the characteristic, high-pitched “whoop.”

The cough becomes dry and irritating, and sounds different from a typical upper respiratory infection cough. The coughing is usually worse at night, and there is an absence of fever.

Coughing may last as long as 10 weeks. Recovery is gradual, and coughing episodes can recur with subsequent respiratory infections or irritations for months after the onset of the disease.

If you contract whooping cough, patients should stay home from work or school during the first five days of treatment. Early treatment may alleviate the severity of the symptoms and prevent spread to high risk individuals, such as babies or pregnant women.

Source: Lake County Health Department

Updated: November 28, 2012 1:30AM

The number of whooping cough cases in Lake County are at the highest number since 1959, health officials said Friday.

The Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center reported that the 178 pertussis cases so far this year have already surpassed last year’s total, 175, for the full year.

“To address this outbreak, everyone 11 years of age and older should receive the Tdap booster,” said Irene Pierce, the Health Department’s executive director. “While this illness was on the decline just a few years ago, it is now a major reportable disease in Lake County.

“And not only Lake County is affected,” she added. “Illinois currently has the fifth highest number of pertussis cases nationwide.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. is currently experiencing what may turn out to be the largest outbreak of reported pertussis. This outbreak is accompanied by complications and death in non-immunized young infants.

Although most children are vaccinated against pertussis (also known as whooping cough) before entering kindergarten, a booster dose is recommended since protection from the pre-school vaccine decreases over time.

The vaccine was modified in the 1990s to reduce side effects, and the new version is possibly wearing off faster than expected. According to the latest studies, protection against pertussis waned during the five years after the fifth dose of DTaP.

Illinois now requires children entering sixth and ninth grades to show proof of having a Tdap booster in order to attend school. Unless a medical or religious exemption has been approved, or a child has an appointment to get the Tdap vaccine during the school year, a child will be subject to exclusion from school on or before Oct. 15.

Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease that is easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing. It does not typically cause severe illness in healthy immunized students. Pertussis can be transmitted from healthy students to infants and individuals with chronic illnesses, for whom pertussis can be life threatening.

Health officials urge those who have had a long-lasting, severe cough, that tends to be worse at night and which sounds different than a typical upper respiratory cough, to consult their physicians. Over-the-counter medicines are ineffective in treating pertussis. Symptoms usually appear five to 10 days after exposure, but can take as long as 21 days.

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