Whip the whoop with autumn immunizationsThis year has seen a spike in the number of cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, across the state. Although there were no reported cases in Lake County, there have been 2,367 cases in Minnesota as of Aug. 16 and 44 cases in St Louis County, including cases at the Lakewood School, according to the Minnesota Health Department web site.
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
This year has seen a spike in the number of cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, across the state. Although there were no reported cases in Lake County, there have been 2,367 cases in Minnesota as of Aug. 16 and 44 cases in St Louis County, including cases at the Lakewood school according to the Minnesota Health Department web site.
“ We have not seen increased disease activity recently in Lake County, but do expect that the increases seen in other parts of the state will make their way to our area as well. Our last local outbreak of pertussis was less than two years ago, with 21 cases between November 2010 and February 2011,” said Kelsey Olson, a public health nurse for Lake County.
As the new school year approaches, Lake County Public Health Supervisor, Michelle Backes-Fogelberg advises parents to “make sure children are up to date on immunizations.”
“We work closely with school nurses to make sure we’re all on the same page,” she adds.
According to a Mayo Clinic publication, “…whooping cough is thought to be on the rise for two main reasons. The whooping cough vaccine you receive as a child eventually wears off. This leaves most teenagers and adults susceptible to the infection during an outbreak — and there continue to be regular outbreaks. In addition, children aren't fully immune to whooping cough until they've received at least three shots, leaving those 6 months and younger at greatest risk of contracting the infection. “
While deaths from whooping cough are rare, they do occur and most often in infants. In other words, older children and adults can come down with whooping cough and bring it home or pass it on to those more vulnerable.
The Minnesota Health Department lists early symptoms of whooping cough as being similar to a cold with runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, red, watery eyes, mild fever and a dry cough. Symptoms worsen over time as mucous collects in the airways, resulting in sudden, uncontrollable bursts of coughing. Children often make the characteristic whooping sound when catching their breath after such a coughing episode, but this whoop is less common in adults and infants. The lack of oxygen from prolonged coughing may cause the lips or face to turn blue.
If caught early, medication can lessen the symptoms of whooping cough, however once symptoms become severe, the lungs require time to heal and the cough will persist until they do.
Families living in Lake County who are uninsured or underinsured can go to the Minnesota Department of Health website at www.health.state.mn.us to find out where immunizations are available. Backes-Fogleberg also suggests that parents call Lake County Social Services and ask for a public health nurse for information and resources.