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Whooping cough rising sharply in Washtenaw County

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This article was posted on MLive. Read more here.

Twenty-one cases of whooping cough have been reported in Washtenaw County so far in 2024, a sharp increase compared to the previous three years, officials said.

Teens and young adults have contracted the illness. In most cases they have been vaccinated against the disease, but the protection from vaccination decreases after two years, leaving teens and young adults more susceptible to illness and contributing to outbreaks, Washtenaw County Health Department officials said.

No hospitalizations have been reported.

“Pertussis (whooping cough), unfortunately, seems to be returning,” Laura Bauman, Washtenaw County Health Department epidemiology program manager, said in a statement.

Whooping cough is a contagious respiratory disease. The name comes from the “whoop” sound an infected person may make when trying to breathe after a coughing fit.

Antibiotic treatment is recommended for those with whooping cough and all household contacts, officials said, adding that diagnosed individuals should stay away from others until they have completed at least five days of antibiotics.

The illness is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, and spreading is most common in the early stages of the illness, officials said.

Symptoms include low fever, runny nose, severe coughing, blue lips and nails and vomiting. Coughing may last for a month or longer.

“It’s important for us to identify and treat cases as soon as possible because illness from pertussis can be serious, especially for infants,” Bauman said.

In the decade prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, 50 to100 cases of pertussis were typically reported each year in Washtenaw County, officials said.

There are two kinds of vaccines that can help prevent pertussis. A booster vaccine is recommended every 10 years.

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