The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department reported Friday that it has seen an increase in whooping cough cases.
The department has investigated nine cases of the disease in children and adults since July 1, which is the same number of cases it saw in all of 2011.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation is on track to have the worst year for whooping cough in more than five decades. Nearly 18,000 cases have been reported so far — more than twice the number seen by this time last year.
Pertussis — more commonly called whooping cough — is a contagious, bacterial, respiratory disease spread by coughing or sneezing in close contact with others. Symptoms include runny nose or congestion, sneezing, cough and fever.
In rare cases, the disease can cause death, especially in children who are 1 or younger.
Lisa Horn, communications coordinator for the health department, said adults experience a milder form of the disease and may unknowingly spread the disease to others. Often, the symptoms are mistaken for a cold.
The health department encourages everyone to get vaccinated because it is the best protection against the illness. The vaccine is available at the health department’s 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.