LANSING (WWJ) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Oakland County Health Division are issuing a health advisory following an increase in the number of identified pertussis cases, commonly referred to as whooping cough.

“The State of Michigan is reporting an increase in pertussis, especially in childcare and preschool settings where children are not old enough to have received the complete five doses of vaccine to be fully immunized,” Kathy Forzley, health officer at the Health Division, said in a statement.

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Forzley says anyone exposed to pertussis and displaying symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor to determine if antibiotics are needed.Infants and children who have not been fully vaccinated against pertussis are at a higher risk of developing severe illness. To be fully immunized, doses are given at 2, 4, 6, and 15 months. The last dose is given at 4 years old.

Pertussis is a very contagious disease that usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever. After one to two weeks, severe coughing can begin. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and people are forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. In infants, the cough can be minimal or not even there.

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Other symptoms include:
• Runny nose
• Nasal congestion
• Sneezing
• Red, watery eyes
• Mild fever
• Dry cough

People infected with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others who then breathe in the bacteria. Pertussis is most contagious during the first two weeks of illness.

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Most local physician offices carry the pertussis vaccine. The vaccine is also available at both Health Division walk-in clinics in Pontiac (1200 N. Telegraph Road, Building 34 East) and Southfield (27725 Greenfield Road). Hours are Noon to 8 p.m. on Mondays and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.