Whooping cough cases rising in Lake County
The number of whooping cough cases are going up in Lake County and statewide, Lake County Health Department Epidemiologist Victor Plotkin said.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is highly contagious. It is also preventable if immunizations are kept up to date, Plotkin said.
“Unfortunately, pertussis is not going to go away soon or in the foreseeable future. Therefore, we need to be aware of the disease and be suspicious of long-lasting coughs,” Plotkin said.
As of Monday, Lake County has had 138 cases of whooping cough reported. And there could be more as schools are poised to begin a new academic year in a few weeks. Whooping cough is transmitted easily in schools. It is spread person-to- person through mucus or droplets.
Between January and Aug. 6, 2011, only 37 cases were reported, according to the Lake County Health Department.
In 2011, there were a total of 175 cases reported in Lake County.
As of August, Illinois has recorded more than 1,200 cases of whooping cough, according to Lake County Health Department. Illinois is ranked No. 5 for states with the most cases of whooping cough.
Statewide in 2011, more than 1,500 cases of whooping cough were reported.
The majority of pertussis cases occur in children under age 18, according to the Health Department. The number of whooping cough cases in 2011 increased by more than 40 percent from 2010.
Plotkin is among state and county health officials who stress the importance of children getting up-to-date with all their shots.
“We need to get vaccinated. The best strategy — I cannot overemphasize — is to get vaccinated to protect ourselves and those around us,” Plotkin said.
Initial immunization is administered in a five-shot series starting at ages 2, 4, 6 and 15 to 18 months.
“With the current vaccine, immunity starts fading out. Resistance to pertussis declines. One needs to be vaccinated and students need to be vaccinated with booster (shots),” Plotkin said.
This year, Illinois has a new requirement for sixth- and ninth-grade students to show proof of having received the whooping cough booster, called Tdap.
“Even with the booster, one can lose immunity over time. That’s why ... everyone needs to be vaccinated. (More vaccinations) means there is less chances for contagious people to be around,” Plotkin said.