There have been several cases of pertussis in the counties surrounding us recently, so the Forest County Health Department would like to share some important information.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It can affect people of all ages, but is most serious among infants and young children.
Among infants and young children, the signs and symptoms begin much like a cold with a runny nose, possible fever, and a mild but irritating cough for one to two weeks. The illness progresses to spells of explosive coughing that can interrupt breathing, eating, and sleeping and is commonly followed by vomiting and exhaustion. After the cough, many patients may make a loud crowing or “whooping” noise as they struggle to inhale air (hence the name “whooping cough”). The severe coughing spells can last for several weeks to months. Among older children and adults, the signs and symptoms are usually milder and without the typical “whoop”.
The best way to prevent pertussis among babies, children, teens, and adults is to get vaccinated.
Also, like many respiratory illnesses, pertussis is spread by coughing and sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Practicing good hygiene is always recommended to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.
Be sure to:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Put your used tissue in the waste basket.
- Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands, if you don’t have a tissue.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.
Typical treatment for pertussis includes antibiotics, and early treatment is very important.
If you or a family member are experiencing symptoms of pertussis, it is best to call your doctor to make an appointment. You may be asked to wear a mask to the clinic so as not to expose anyone else. It is also important to stay home and away from others if you are experiencing symptoms to prevent spread of the illness.
For more information visit https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/immunization/pertussis.htm or https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/index.html or call the Forest County Health Department with any questions at 715-478-3371.