Most pertussis cases in Lake County since 1959 - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Most pertussis cases in Lake County since 1959

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WAUKEGAN, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

The number of cases of whooping cough in north suburban Lake County this year has already surpassed last year's total and is the highest since 1959, county health officials say.

At least 178 cases have been confirmed this year, topping the 175 recorded in 2011, the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center reported Friday.

It's the most in more than 50 years, so health officials are encouraging adolescents and adults to receive a Tdap booster shot for additional protection.

"To address this outbreak, everyone 11 and older should receive the Tdap booster," county health director Irene Pierce said in a statement. "While this illness was on the decline just a few years ago, it is now a major reportable disease in Lake County."

She also said Illinois has the fifth highest number of pertussis cases in the nation so far this year.

According to the CDC, the United States is in the midst of what could be the largest outbreak of reported pertussis ever.

Although most children are vaccinated against whooping cough) before kindergarten, a booster dose is recommended since protection from the pre-school vaccine decreases over time. The vaccine was modified in the 1990s to reduce side effects, and the new version is possibly wearing off faster than expected.

Illinois now requires children entering sixth- and ninth-grades to show proof of having a Tdap booster in order to attend school.

Pertussis is easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing. It does not typically cause severe illness in healthy immunized children, but can lead to complications and death in un-immunized infants. It can also be life-threatening for individuals with chronic illnesses.

Health officials urge those who have had a long-lasting, severe cough, that tends to be worse at night and which sounds different than a typical upper respiratory cough, to consult their physicians.

Symptoms usually appear five to 10 days after exposure, but can take as long as 21 days. The first symptoms are similar to those of a common cold accompanied by cough, which gradually becomes severe and often progresses to coughing spasms, which can end in vomiting or the characteristic, high-pitched "whoop."

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