There has been an increase in whooping cough cases this year across the country and state, and Douglas County has been no exception.
The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department has investigated 54 cases this year, which surpasses last year's total of 17. All of the 2012 cases have been reported since June. Statewide, there have been 418 cases this year compared to 71 last year.
On Wednesday, the Lawrence-Douglas Health Department was investigating a case of whopping cough in a ninth-grade student at Lawrence High School. The department was working with the Lawrence school district to notify families of students who may be susceptible to infection.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, 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.
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 local health department at 843-0721 and ask for a communicable disease nurse.