2013 Considered 'Outbreak' Year for Whooping Cough

The number of cases of Whooping Cough have been on the rise in a number of counties in central Wisconsin, as well as across the state.

It's highly contagious, and that is what has healthcare providers concerned.

Symptoms of whooping cough may start out just like the common cold with runny nose and fever, but can quickly turn into a serious health problem marked by severe bouts of coughing.

The Portage County Health Department saw 27 cases of whooping cough in the month of November alone. While they say they saw similar numbers last year---the general average is about 5. And the growing trend is not unique to Portage County.

"We have been seeing increases in Pertussis cases here within Portage County probably since mid-October, but I know that our health department neighbors in both Marathon and Wood; and I believe in Clark and Taylor have been have been seeing increases in Pertussis as well,” explains Portage County Health Officer, Gary Garske.

One of the issues that concerns health and human services is the fact that most cases affect school-age children. Since the illness is highly contagious, everyone the ill child has had contact with needs to be notified. And when it comes to kids in a school setting, there are often lots of notifications.

"A close contact could be somebody that is a desk neighbor-- whether they be adjacent to the side or front or back. It could be a locker partner. It could be a bus mate. It could be someone the child has lunch with everyday,” says Garske.

Rates of whooping cough have been on the rise statewide. In fact, it has been classified as an "outbreak" for over a year.

Most children receive the DTaP vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis from a very early age. But, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it is not 100 percent effective. That is why the health department says no parent should ever assume that just because their kids have gotten the vaccine that they couldn't still be at at least a slight risk.

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