Will County Health Department officials want residents to be on alert because of a surge in cases of pertussis, commonly known as “whooping cough,” throughout northeast Illinois.
Whooping cough can affect people year round, and colder weather keeping everyone indoors can lead to more transmissions of the disease, according to a news release.
“Often people hear the coughing and think it’s just seasonal allergies, asthma or the flu,” Alpesh Patel, an epidemiologist at the health department, said in the release. “But when the persistent mild or moderate cough has lasted two weeks, you really need to think about pertussis.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes whooping cough as “uncontrollable, violent coughing which often causes a person to need to take deep breaths, which results in a ‘whooping sound.’”
Patel said that while immunization against pertussis is the best protection, the disease can still be transmitted to anyone who is exposed to cough droplets.
He said that medical providers should be open to the possibility that a familiar problem might actually be pertussis.
Whooping cough also can strike people of all different ages at any time of the year. Since it is spread by droplets, residents are advised to cover their mouths and wash their hands frequently.
“It’s best to always check with your doctor on whether you are up to date on immunizations and if you might need a booster,” Patel said in the release. “As your medical provider to check for this.”
For information on pertussis, visit cdc.gov/pertussis.