Wisconsin doctors are issuing a whooping cough warning. Doctor Ellen Wald, chair of pediatrics and an infectious disease doctor at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison says California is in the midst of what looks to be a record outbreak of whooping cough, a warm weather respiratory illness also known as pertussis. “They’ve had more than 1300 cases so far this year, and a total of five deaths, all in children less than two months of age,” says Wald.
Whooping cough vaccination is fairly widespread among infants, but the vaccines can’t begin until age two months, so shots for young teens and adults are now recommended. “The best way to protect them is to be sure that their household contacts are immunized, so they don’t bring it home,” says Wald. “So the way we can protect our most vulnerable population is by immunizing the adolescents and adults who are in their environment.” Wald says, given the size of the outbreaks in California and other states, a record or near record outbreak of whooping cough in Wisconsin is “entirely predictable.”