Cases of whooping cough increase in St. Croix CountySt. Croix County Health Department officials released information the afternoon of June 8 that the county has received confirmation that 12 patients have tested positive for pertussis – commonly known as whooping cough – since May 29.
St. Croix County Health Department officials released information the afternoon of June 8 that the county has received confirmation that 12 patients have tested positive for pertussis – commonly known as whooping cough – since May 29.
Health officer Wendy Kramer said the county had no reported pertussis in 2011. Those reported this year have occurred in people aged 6 to 55.
The information describes pertussis as a “very contagious bacterial disease spread by an infected coughing person. It can infect anyone, but it is extremely serious in babies, young children, and pregnant women. Pertussis disease may result in hospitalization.”
The disease begins like a cold with a runny nose, sneezing, and a mild-but-irritating cough for one or two weeks then severe coughing can begin. Whooping cough is most contagious before the coughing starts.
The illness progresses to spells of explosive coughing that can interrupt breathing, eating and sleeping and it is commonly followed by vomiting and exhaustion. Pertussis is diagnosed from a laboratory confirmed nasal (nose) specimen collected during the early stage of the illness.
Anyone who is tested for pertussis should be treated with prescription antibiotic at the same visit and instructed to stay isolated at home until they receive a negative test result or complete five days of antibiotic treatment.
Anyone that has been identified as a close contact to a pertussis case and has cold-like symptoms should see their doctor, get tested, treated, and stay isolated. In addition, antibiotic treatment is recommended for well people who are in close contact to an infected person.
Treatment may make the infection less severe if it is started early, before coughing begins. Treatment can also help prevent spreading the disease to close contacts and is necessary for stopping the spread of pertussis.
Infants and other people at high risk for pertussis should stay away from infected people.
There are antibiotics that will shorten the period of the spread of the disease, but an individual may cough for up to three months. The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated, says the health department information.