Whooping cough outbreak in the Thorp area

(WEAU) – The Clark County Health Department says there have been 12 confirmed cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in the Thorp area.

It says the cases have been in children ages 3 to 15 years old, with the first case reported in November.

Clark County Health Department Press Release

Neillsville, WI- The Clark County Health Department recently had issued letters to the parents/guardians of students within the Thorp School District, along with informing them that there have been confirmed cases of pertussis (Whooping Cough) within the school system. Currently in the northern part of the county within the Thorp area there have been 12 confirmed cases of pertussis since November 2012 ranging in age from 3 to 15 years old. Not only is pertussis on the increase within the Thorp area but also throughout Clark County as a whole. There have been a total of 15 positive cases within Clark County As of August 2012.

Pertussis is a contagious bacterial disease that affects the respiratory tract. The bacteria are spread by contact with the respiratory droplets from an infected person through coughing. Exposure usually occurs after repeated indoor face-to face contact. Household spread is common.

In infants and young children, the disease begins much like a cold with a runny nose, possible low grade fever and a mild but irritating cough for 1-2 weeks. The illness progresses to spells of explosive coughing that can interrupt breathing, eating, and sleeping, and is commonly followed by vomiting and exhaustion. Following the cough, the patients may make a loud crowing or "whooping" sound as they struggle to inhale air (hence the common name "whooping cough"). The severe coughing spells can last for several weeks to two months or longer. In older children, adolescents and adults the symptoms are usually milder and without the typical whoop.

Symptoms usually appear 7 to 20 days after exposure. Pertussis is most contagious in the early stage of the illness before the onset of the explosive coughing spell. The spread of pertussis may be up to three weeks or more after cough onset. The spread period can be reduced to 5 days after the initiation of an appropriate course of antibiotics administered in the early stages of illness. Persons with pertussis should be isolated from school, work or similar activities until they have completed at least the first 5 days (120 total hours) of antibiotic treatment. The remaining doses of antibiotics need to be taken as prescribed.

“As a safety precaution, we ask that if a child is showing signs of a possible case of pertussis, to keep them home isolated and seek medical attention from a physician in order to obtain testing and treatment as soon as possible” said Sabrina Meddaugh, RN BSN, of the Clark County Health Department.

This is an important reminder for children, parents, and community members to be up to date on immunizations. Until further notice due to the statewide pertussis outbreak, the health department can give any pertussis containing vaccines to children and adults for FREE regardless of insurance coverage. To obtain the Clark County Health Department clinic hours or for more information please call 715-743-5105 or visit our website at www.co.clark.wi.us.

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