10 cases of whooping cough reported in Ashland CountyAshland County now has seen 10 cases of whooping cough in recent weeks.
By: Associated Press,News Tribune staff, Associated Press,News Tribune
ASHLAND — Ashland County now has seen 10 cases of whooping cough in recent weeks.
Cyndi Zach, the public health administrator for the county health and human services department, said the cases include nine students in the Ashland school district and one adult.
She told the Daily Press of Ashland that four other people are being watched as “suspects” for whooping cough, or pertussis as it is clinically known.
Zach said late last month that the first six cases were all students in Ashland schools, and all had been vaccinated for the disease.
Whooping cough is an extremely contagious bacterial disease that brings on uncontrollable, often violent coughing that can make it hard to breathe.
Evidence shows the effectiveness of the vaccine “tends to wane,” Zach said last month, which is why a booster is recommended for adolescents. Not all of the Ashland teens with whooping cough had gotten the booster shot.
Amy Westbrook, Minnesota Department of Health epidemiologist for Northeastern Minnesota, said in late December that the region had had only sporadic reports of pertussis since earlier this fall, when seven cases occurred in Cook County between August and October. During the summer, 15 cases were reported in the Virginia area.
The median age for the whooping cough in the region is between 10 and 11, Westbrook said. It seems to attack before children have received the recommended dose of Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria vaccine with protection against pertussis).
“It is really important to encourage Tdap vaccinations for those 11- and
12-year-olds,” Westbrook said. The Tdap can be given to children as young as 7 if they have not been fully vaccinated previously, she added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends five doses of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine by the time a child is 6.
But in any event, “it’s not a pleasant disease at all,” Westbrook said of whooping cough last month. “Most people have a six- to eight-week-long cough or even longer. When we see it circulating in the adolescents, that sustains the disease in the community.”