Health officials monitoring cases of pertussis in Upper Michigan

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NEGAUNEE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - Public health officials are keeping a close eye on cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, in Upper Michigan. There have been reported cases at the Marquette County Health Department as well as the Dickinson-Iron and Delta-Menominee Health Department districts.

Cutout Photo: Ryan Boren / CC BY 2.0 (MGN)

Health officials say pertussis usually begins with mild upper respiratory symptoms, such as runny nose and mild cough. It then progresses to a more severe cough, with spasms of coughing which may cause vomiting. Young children and especially infants are most at risk. The disease is also easily spread through coughing or sneezing, which is why health officials say the best defense against whooping cough is vaccination.

"The strategy is of course that people should have their infants immunized on time, at two, four and six months, they get a booster between 4 and 6 and they get that other booster at 11 to 12 years, to get the maximum benefit from that vaccine is to do it on time," said Public Health Nurse for the Marquette County Health Department, Kathleen Mell. "If you've been exposed to pertussis, you need to talk to your doctor, and they'll go from there, there are very specific guidelines on what to do in that case."

There's been excellent success with the vaccine. Before the vaccine was recommended for all infants about 8,000 people in the U.S. died each year from whooping cough. That number now has dropped to fewer than 20 per year.

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