The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department reported Thursday that there have been six cases of whooping cough in Lawrence during the past month.
Lisa Horn, spokeswoman, said all of the cases involve children who are younger than school age but do not attend a day care. She said some of the children are related, but not all of them. Four of the cases involve unvaccinated children.
It’s the second outbreak this year. In March, there were seven cases and six of them involved unvaccinated children.
Pertussis — more commonly called whooping cough — is a contagious, bacterial, respiratory disease spread by coughing or sneezing in close contact with others.
Horn said parents, older siblings or other caregivers, who may not know they have pertussis, can infect infants with the illness.
The symptoms of pertussis begin much like a common cold:
• Runny nose or congestion.
• Occasionally a mild cough or fever.
• Infants and children with the disease may cough violently and rapidly, over and over, until the air is gone from their lungs and they’re forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound.
The health department said whooping cough may be mild in older children and adults, but in younger children, the illness can be complicated by pneumonia and occasionally brain inflammation. In rare cases — one out of 200 — pertussis can cause death, especially in children age 1 or younger.
Horn said the best protection is vaccination, and the health department has vaccine available at its clinic, 200 Maine.
If you have any questions about vaccination or if you or your child is experiencing pertussis symptoms, contact your physician or the health department at 843-0721 and ask for a communicable disease nurse.