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Whooping cough cases increasing in both counties

Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is currently widespread, with 1,514 cases in Wisconsin and as of June 14, 35 cases in Pierce County and 29 cases in St. Croix County.

Cases with Pierce and St. Croix counties have been widespread and involving individuals from age 6 months to 55 years.

Schools within the River Falls School District have multiple confirmed cases.

Parents and individuals are encouraged to be on the lookout for symptoms.

According to the Mayo Clinic "once you become infected with whooping cough, it can take one to three weeks for signs and symptoms to appear. They're usually mild at first and resemble those of a common cold:

    * Runny nose

    * Nasal congestion

    * Sneezing

    * Red, watery eyes

    * A mild fever

    * Dry cough

After a week or two, signs and symptoms worsen. Thick mucus accumulates inside your airways, causing uncontrollable coughing. Severe and prolonged coughing attacks may:

    * Provoke vomiting

    * Result in a red or blue face

    * Cause extreme fatigue

    * End with a high-pitched "whoop" sound during the next breath of air.

However, many people don't develop the characteristic whoop. Sometimes, a persistent hacking cough is the only sign that an adolescent or adult has whooping cough."

Anyone who is tested for pertussis should be treated with prescription antibiotic and instructed to stay isolated at home until they receive a negative test result or complete five days of antibiotic treatment.

Anyone that has been identified as a close contact to a pertussis case and has cold-like symptoms should see their doctor, get tested, treated, and stay isolated. In addition, antibiotic treatment is recommended for well people who are in close contact to an infected person.

Treatment may make the infection less severe if it is started early, before coughing begins. Treatment can also help prevent spreading of the disease to close contacts and is necessary for stopping the spread of pertussis.

Infants and other people at high risk for pertussis should stay away from infected people.

Public health officials in each county are encouraging those not vaccinated do so. "The best defense against pertussis continues to be vaccination," said Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer.

"We recommend all Wisconsin residents check their vaccination status and schedule a visit to their healthcare providers if they have not yet been immunized against pertussis."

It should be noted that the vaccine does not guarantee that one will not get pertussis. If someone does experience pertussis after immunization, their case is usually milder.

In Pierce County, pertussis containing vaccines are available at the Pierce County Health Department by calling 715-273-6755 to set up an appointment.

In St. Croix County, pertussis containing vaccines are available at the St. Croix County Health Department by calling 715-246-8330 to schedule an appointment.

Jillian Dexheimer

Jillian Dexheimer has been a copy editor and reporter for the River Falls Journal since 2011. She previously worked for the River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Dexheimer holds a sociology degree from UW-River Falls.