With 59 cases of whooping cough reported in eastern Racine County since January, health officials are asking residents to make sure they are up to date with their vaccinations.
Wisconsin currently leads the nation in the number of reported cases with 5,163 confirmed or probable cases reported, according to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health (WDPH).
The highly-contagious communicable disease starts out like a cold in infants and young children, with a low-grade fever and cough that appears seven to 20 days after a person has been exposed. As the illness advances, a person can have explosive coughing, and may be followed by vomiting and exhaustion.
Locally, Jeffrey Langlieb, community health program manager for the Central Racine County Health Department, said they have had 20 confirmed and probable cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, since Jan. 1. The department hasn’t had that many cases for years. In 2004 the department had 18 cases.
“We’ve seen some evidence that this has some temporal patterns, and does come in cycles,” Langlieb said. “We’re trying to get the word out that people need to get up to date on vaccines, especially children and adults who are around babies.”
Cases of whooping cough have also been reported at Walden III and Park High schools in the past few weeks.
Stacy Tapp, director of communications and public information for Racine Unified School District said the district has also seen an increase in the number of cases reported over the past year.
“I don’t really think we are any different than what’s going on nationally,” Tapp said. “But we are working with the City of Racine Health Department and the Central Racine County Health Department on this and we’re following their protocols.”
According to the WDPH, a vaccine is available, but is given in combination of Diphtheria and Tetanus vaccines, called DTaP. That vaccine is recommended for children age two months through six years old. Another whooping cough vaccine is available for adolescents and adults, called Tdap, which is recommended as a one-time booster.
If someone has the illness, they should call a doctor to get an antibiotic treatment, which can shorten the amount of time they are contagious. People who have the illness should be isolated from school, work, or other activities until they have finished the first five days of the antibiotic treatment, according to the WDPH.
Here are some area immunization clinics: