Shorewood school officials are alerting parents to monitor their children for symptoms of whooping cough following a second confirmed case at Lake Bluff Elementary.
Whooping cough, more formally known as pertussis, has been a growing problem in Wisconsin over the last two years. More than a dozen cases have been reported in Shorewood and at least 10 in Whitefish Bay and five in Fox Point.
"It's been continuous for the last year," North Shore Health Department Director Jamie Berg said in a previous interview. "A couple years ago, we might have only had a couple cases in a year, but we've definitely seen an increase over the last year or two."
Pertussis is a contagious bacterial disease that is spread through the air by coughing. It begins with cold symptoms and a cough, which becomes much worse over one to two weeks.
People with symptoms of pertussis should be tested, even if they have already been vaccinated.
Symptoms usually include a long series of coughs followed by a whooping noise. Older children, adults, and very young infants may not develop the whoop. There is generally no fever. People with pertussis may have a series of coughs followed by vomiting, turning blue, or difficulty catching their breath. The cough is worse at night and cough medicines usually don’t help alleviate the cough.
The incubation period for pertussis is usually seven to 20 days from the point of exposure. If your child comes down with cold symptoms that include a cough, talk with your child’s doctor and request an evaluation for pertussis, explaining the potential exposure. Treating with antibiotics early can help your child get well faster and lower the chance of spreading the disease to others.
A nasal swab is needed to confirm the diagnosis. Once the swab is taken, the health department asks that the child stay home from school until they know they do not have the disease. If the pertussis test comes back positive, the child is required to stay home for five days from the start of the antibiotic.