9 confirmed cases of Whooping Cough in Buffalo County - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

9 confirmed cases of Whooping Cough in Buffalo County


ALMA (Press Release) - Nine confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) have occurred in the Alma School District, according to the Buffalo County Public Health Department. 

"We've contacted people who have possibly been exposed," said Jen Rombalski, Buffalo County public health officer, "and, if needed, they are being treated. Some people with symptoms have also been treated who weren't able to get tested before the treatment. In the meantime, we're working with our partners to inform parents about pertussis and are investigating any new exposures."

Rombalski said the disease exposure and spread began May 6 and involves mostly Buffalo County residents plus some contacts in Wabasha, Trempealeau, La Crosse, and Pepin counties.

Pertussis is a contagious bacterial disease. It can affect adults, babies and children and is spread by the coughing of an infected person.

"Symptoms and effects of pertussis are most severe in babies and young children," said Rombalski. "At first, symptoms are similar to a cold -- runny nose, maybe a low-grade fever, and a mild but irritating cough for one or two weeks. Then the illness gets worse, and the child will have spells of explosive coughing. He or she may not be able to breathe, eat or sleep comfortably, and can vomit or become exhausted."

Following the cough, you may hear a loud crowing or "whooping" sound, as the child tries to inhale air. The severe coughing spells can last for several weeks up to two months or longer.

In very young babies (less than 6 months of age), pertussis can lead to bacterial pneumonia, weight loss, and dehydration. More than half of the babies with confirmed pertussis are hospitalized.

In older children and adults, the symptoms are usually milder and without the typical whoop.

Pertussis is spread most easily in the early stage, before the explosive cough begins. Symptoms usually appear 7-20 days after exposure. The disease is treated with antibiotics, and the infected person should stay home from work or school for at least the first five days of treatment.

To help stop pertussis from spreading, cover coughs and wash hands.

"If anyone in your family shows symptoms of pertussis, please contact your healthcare provider immediately," said Rombalski.

Between January 1 and June 2 of this year, 388 pertussis cases have been investigated statewide, according to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health. Last year during the same time period, 3,270 cases had been reported.

More information about pertussis can be found at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Web site:

"Pertussis disease fact sheet" http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/publications/p4/p42147.pdf

"Is it a cold, flu or pertussis?"


For additional resources, please call the Buffalo County Health Department at 608-685-4412 or visit the Web site at www.buffalocountypublichealth.com.

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