Could your cough be pertussis?

The Fond du lac County Health Department has seen a large increase in the number of confirmed pertussis cases.

In the month of May, eight confirmed cases were reported to the Health Department and 10 have been reported so far in June with the majority of cases reported being in school age children.

In 2011, just three cases of pertussis were identified in Fond du Lac County.

The Health Department wants to remind residents that pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease which is spread from person to person when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes or talks.

Household members and others who are in close contact with an infected person for an extended period of time can become infected by inhaling the pertussis germ.

Pertussis symptoms, which may be mild initially, include:

Cold symptoms (runny nose, sneezing)

Cough- may be only at night or worse at night.

If not treated the cough will become more severe, and the person will feel like he cannot breathe, are choking during coughing episodes, or coughs so hard that he vomits.

It is important if you or someone you know has any of the these symptoms to talk with your health-care provider to determine if testing for pertussis is indicated and if antibiotic treatment is recommended.

People with pertussis symptoms need to remain at home and not go to daycare, school, work or social activities until pertussis has been ruled out or five days of antibiotic treatment have been completed.

Pertussis in young infants can be a life-threatening illness and one infant has died from the disease this year in Wisconsin.

Anyone with a cough that could be pertussis should have no contact with an infant.

“The best protection against pertussis is to be vaccinated,” said Diane Cappozzo, health officer. “Children receive five doses of Dtap vaccine by the age of 5. Everyone over the age of 10 should have at least one dose of Tdap vaccine, including adults.”

Vaccine is available from a health-care provider or through the Health Department at no cost to Fond du Lac County residents.

Additional information about pertussis and pertussis vaccines can be found at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/immunization/pertussis.htm or by calling the Health Department at 920-929-3085.

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