Whooping cough cases on the rise in Winnebago County

ROCKFORD — The Winnebago County Health Department says a total of 29 cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, have already been recorded in 2017.

The department says cases have already impacted seven local schools, and Mercyhealth reported Friday seeing a rise in cases despite patients having been immunized.

“Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness which is spread by close contact, especially within the household,” said Dr. David Shoberg, Pediatric Pulmonologist at Mercyhealth, in a statement. “We are seeing a significant uptick in cases in the community and need to be extra diligent with the coming holiday season. We encourage people to contact their health care provider with concerns.”

Whooping cough spreads from person to person by coughing or sneezing or spending a lot of time near one another, says the health department. It affects all age groups, though can be particularly dangerous for infants, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems.

Caregivers, including parents and grandparents, should be vaccinated against, experts say. “Adults and children should stay home when they are sick and practice good respiratory hygiene including covering their cough, disposing of soiled tissues, and washing their hands,” according to the county.

Symptoms include:

  • Runny nose, low-grade fever;
  • Fits of many, rapid coughs followed by a high‐pitched “whoop” sound;
  • Throwing up during or after coughing fits;
  • Coughing may be worse at night, disrupting sleep;
  • Being very tired after coughing fits;
  • and Apnea, or a pause in breathing (in babies).

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control website, or the Winnebago County Health Department website at wchd.org. R.

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