ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) – At least 104 cases of whooping-cough have been reported so far this year in Washtenaw County. That’s compared with 28 cases all of last year.
County health officials say new cases of whooping-cough, which is also known as pertussis, have remained steady even though the school year has ended.
The largest group affected by the illness are 10- to 14-year-olds, with 53 infections, followed by 15- to 19-year-olds, with 23 infections. In at least one of the cases, the patient had to be hospitalized.
Pertussis is a highly contagious and potentially deadly respiratory disease associated with coughing fits as the infected person struggles to catch his or her breath. Pertussis is known as “whooping cough” due to the “whoop” sound made when the infected person tries to breathe after hard coughing and choking spells.
The infection starts out much like the common cold and may include a low-grade fever or runny nose. After one or two weeks, pertussis can become a series of severe coughing fits that continues for weeks. Fits of coughing can cause vomiting or lack of oxygen.
Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. In children less than one year old, complications include pneumonia, convulsions and, in rare cases, brain damage. The majority of deaths from pertussis occur in infants younger than two months of age.
Early treatment with antibiotics can make the infection less severe and prevent the spread of illness to others. Vaccination may also prevent pertussis infection or reduce the severity of illness.
Statewide, there were 358 pertussis cases reported though July 20 — a slight decline from 2012.
For additional information about pertussis, visit www.ewashtenaw.org.
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