Health Notes: Whooping cough continues to spread in Minnesota, WisconsinThe pertussis outbreak is continuing in Minnesota, a state epidemiologist said.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
The pertussis outbreak is continuing in Minnesota, a state epidemiologist said.
“We are seeing 100 to 200 cases per week,” Cynthia Kenyon of the Minnesota Department of Health said about the disease commonly known as whooping cough.
The number of cases reported so far this year jumped from 2,700 early this month to 3,558 as of this week. But that increase is slightly misleading, she said, because she changed the counting method to include probable and suspected cases as well as confirmed cases. Almost all of those cases eventually are confirmed, she said.
“It’s a little bit more timely and more accurate about what we’re actually seeing,” she said.
Wisconsin had 4,463 confirmed and probable cases as of Sept. 17, up from 4,181 earlier this month, according to the state’s Division of Public Health.
The number of pertussis cases this year has spiked in Minnesota, Wisconsin and other states. In Minnesota, the number of cases has reached a level not seen since 1943. The state now has a rate of 63.5 cases per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s the second-highest rate in the country, behind only Wisconsin’s 78.6.
St. Louis County has reported 67 cases so far this year, Carlton County 10 cases and Lake County one. No cases have turned up in Cook County.
Douglas County has reported seven cases, and Bayfield County six.
Reports actually have slowed since July and August, Kenyon said, but it’s too early to say the worst is over. Pertussis requires a three-week incubation period, meaning a bump of cases being spread in schools still is possible.
The median age for pertussis in Minnesota this year is 11. Because of that, providers across the state are being encouraged to recommend the Tdap vaccine — which includes a pertussis booster — to children as young as 10, Kenyon said. The previous recommended age was 11 or 12.