Wood County Current Events

Posted 12/13/2013 by krauter@co.wood.wi.us
December 13, 2013

Since November 1, 2013, Marathon County Health Department, Portage County Health and Human Services, and Wood County Health Department have seen a significant rise in positive cases of laboratory confirmed pertussis (whooping cough) in students attending several different schools and organized activities within Central Wisconsin.

As a part of the follow-up procedure, Public Health staff within the health departments and agencies throughout Central Wisconsin continues to identify close contacts of positive cases of pertussis, impacting classrooms, organizations, and school sport activities. Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease. It is important for suspect cases to be evaluated by health care providers.

It is equally important for identified close contacts of pertussis to contact their health care providers for a preventive antibiotic prophylaxis if they have no symptoms, and for testing and treatment if they are symptomatic. It is very important that any person for whom pertussis is suspected to be tested and remain isolated until the results of the test are known. State Division of Health suggests the following guidelines in identifying, isolating, testing and treating suspect cases of pertussis:
•Symptoms in the early phase are cold-like with mild cough and progress to uncontrollable and persistent cough that may include whooping and vomiting.
•Symptoms develop about 7 to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria.
•The cough usually lasts about six weeks, but the untreated patient usually remains infectious for 2 to 3 weeks.
•The treatment of choice is usually azithromycin or clarithromycin.
•Infants and people with a weakened immune system like cancer have the highest risk of complications and may need hospitalization.
•Cough mixtures, expectorants and/or suppressants should NOT be used and help very little.
•Immunization with D-tap or T-dap is still the best defense against the disease.
•Individuals suspected of having pertussis should be isolated until the initial 5 days of antibiotic treatment are completed.
•Women in their third trimester of pregnancy should receive a Tdap immunization with each pregnancy

The outbreak of pertussis continues throughout Wisconsin. Some parents are compliant with their children’s immunizations or because their children have been treated in the past for pertussis. As a result, parents may dismiss symptoms of pertussis as a cold or respiratory ailment such as asthma or allergies. In many of the investigated confirmed positive cases of pertussis, patients have reported milder symptoms of the disease and generally not the ‘whoop’ or uncontrollable cough, especially for patients that are currently immunized against the disease.

It is important to remember, that if you suspect pertussis in yourself or a family member to contact your local health care provider. If tested, and symptomatic, avoid public congregations such as work, school and other social settings until test results are known. If treated for symptoms, you must follow the antibiotic treatment as prescribed and remain at home until treatment is completed. If not tested by your health care provider and treated as a presumed positive case for pertussis, you must remain isolated at home for 5 days – until the antibiotic treatment is completed. Pertussis is a reportable disease to local health departments and Public health staff is required to follow up with positive cases and close contacts to patients with Pertussis. Check with your health care provider or local health department to see if you and your family are up to date with DTap or Tdap vaccine doses. As a good public health measure toward prevention wash your hands often and keep coughs covered.

For additional information contact your local health department (may list specific contacts) or visit http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/immunization/pertussis.htm