2012 Outbreak Update
Posted May 10, 2010
The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) has now received reports of 133 cases of probable or confirmed pertussis (whooping cough) infections in the City of Milwaukee. Whooping cough is a bacterial respiratory disease that is easily transmissible person to person especially in school and daycare settings. Symptoms of pertussis infection include possible low grade fever, runny nose and persistent coughing which can last for weeks. Infants and the elderly are most susceptible to severe infections if untreated. Vaccination against pertussis is the best preventive measure. A series of vaccinations are given to children between 2 months and 6 years of age. A booster vaccination is also recommended for children 11-12 year of age and for adults especially any person caregiving young children as well as household contacts to young children and infants. The MHD has received numerous reports of pertussis cases and clusters in private and public school settings, daycares and universities in the past 3 weeks. Persons with symptoms should be excluded from work or school until illness subsides or testing and treatment by a healthcare provider. More information is available by calling your local public health agency. In the City of Milwaukee, call 414-286-3521 between the hours of 8-4:45 PM.
Pertussis in older children and adults can be difficult to distinguish from other, more common respiratory illnesses. Generally, coughing is usually more severe and prolonged. Anyone with a cough lasting more than seven days should contact their doctor or health care provider.
Pertussis is treated by taking antibiotics. Because the coughing associated with pertussis is caused by damage the bacteria does to our airways, antibiotics will not stop you from coughing. They will, however, prevent the infection from doing more damage to you and prevent you from spreading the disease to others.
If you know or were notified that you had been exposed to someone with pertussis, and you develop a cough within 21 days of that exposure, you should also contact your health care provider. Early treatment with antibiotics can decrease the severity of your illness and prevent spread.
Pertussis can be prevented by getting vaccinated. While vaccination is not 100% effective in preventing all pertussis cases, it can greatly reduce your chance of getting pertussis. To learn more about the vaccines that can prevent pertussis, click here (non-MHD link).
If you are uncertain if you or your child are up-to-date on the recommended vaccinations, call your doctor. Some or all of you or your child's immunization records may also be found on the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR).
If your child does not have a health care provider or you cannot afford the costs, the Milwaukee Health Department offers free immunization clinics where you can get vaccinated. For scheduled times and locations, click here.
More Information About Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Information for Health Care Workers
From Wisconsin DHS
Specimen Collection and Laboratory Information (pdf format):
CDC Guidelines for the Control of Pertussis Outbreaks
2004 Outbreak Statistics (pdf format):
2004 Additional Resources
Fact Sheet (Spanish): Qué es pertussis (tosferina, pdf)?