See more details in the May 17 County Post.
The statewide outbreak of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, has reached Waupaca County.
A case of pertussis was identified last week in a Waupaca High School student, according to Public Health Nurse Manager Linda Behm, with the Waupaca County Health and Human Services Department.
In a letter sent Friday, Behm recommended that parents watch closely for signs and symptoms of pertussis in their children.
“The disease is spread by air through direct face-to-face contact with a sick person,” Behm said. “Pertussis begins
with cold-like symptoms and a cough which becomes worse over one to two weeks. Symptoms usually include a long series of coughs, followed by a whoop noise. There is generally no fever.”
People with pertussis may have a prolonged fits of explosive coughing followed by vomiting, turning blue, or difficulty catching their breath. The cough is often worse at night and cough medicines usually do not alleviate the cough.
Beth Kaplan, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that 1,900 cases have been reported in Wisconsin so far this year, more than 10 times the number reported during the same time frame in 2011.
The disease is most serious in infants and pre-schoolers who have not been immunized against the disease. More than half of the children younger than 6 months who get pertussis must be hospitalized.
“If you have young children at home, between the ages of 2 months through 6 years, make sure they are up to date on their DTaP immunizations,” Behm said.
Routine immunization of infants and children with acellular Pertussis (aP) vaccine is recommended at 2, 4, 6 and 15-18 months of age with a booster dose at 4-6 years of age. It is given in a combination with Diphtheria and Tetanus vaccines called DTaP.
The effectiveness of the vaccine in children who have received at least three doses is estimated to be 80 percent, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Protection will begin to diminish after about three years. Persons who experience pertussis after immunization usually have a milder case
Parents whose children come down with cold symptoms that include a persistent cough should, talk to their doctor without delay and report it to the county health department at 715-258-6323.