Whooping Cough woes return with new school year

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- School bells have been ringing in the Chippewa Valley for three weeks now.

And experts say that's just enough time for your child to catch something from a classmate.

While it's not uncommon to hear kids sneezing and coughing this time of year, a recent outbreak of whooping cough in Wisconsin has parents on edge this new school year.

When the trees start changing colors parents say that's when they see their kids coming home sick.

But you should know that just an ordinary-sounding cough can turn into Pertussis, better known as Whooping Cough.

Wisconsin is leading the country in the outbreak with nearly 35,000 cases in the state so far this year.

While Whooping Cough peaked in the Chippewa Valley in May, school bells ringing again could bring the dreadful illness back.

“Anytime you bring people together in clusters you increase the chance a respiratory problem might continue,” said Jean Durch, the director of the Chippewa County Public Health Department.

So far this September there's been three reported cases in Eau Claire County, and two in Chippewa County.

Durch said parents should look for flu or cold-like symptoms.

“That progresses to a cough that can become such that you can have spasm coughs where you can't catch your breath. It could make you throw up or turn blue from so much coughing," Durch said.

If you suspect your child has Whooping Cough or any other illness, health officials say you should take them off the playground and put them in the doctor's office.

And what if it's not treated?

“Infections of the brain can be an issue in a child, or starting off with whooping cough and progressing into a more serious lung infection,” Durch said.

Parents WEAU talked to said whooping cough should be taken seriously.

“You don't want anything to get escalated or get worse and then you're trying to fix something that's really been broken as to taking preventative action,” said Beth Hanaman of Eau Claire.

Durch said the best way to keep yourself and your kids from getting whooping cough is to make sure everyone has up to date vaccinations.

She said local health departments monitor when kids are absent in school to see if there are any illness trends.

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