Whooping cough cases on the rise in Milwaukee schools

According to a spokesperson at the Milwaukee Health Department, the city has seen an accelerated number of pertussis cases in the past one to two weeks, including five confirmed cases this week.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is spreading through school districts around the state, with 12 total cases confirmed in the month of November, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports.
"We're double what we typically see in November," Paul Biedrzycki, the director of disease control and environmental health for the MHD, said, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. "Normally, we see a few dozen cases a year in the city of Milwaukee."
Health officials are concerned that a new generation of vaccines may be needed to strengthen immunity for a longer time. In Menomonee Falls, all 15 children who tested positive and six highly probable cases of pertussis since Oct. 24 were up-to-date on vaccinations.
Pertussis is most contagious before the explosive cough begins but can be spread for as long as three weeks once the cough starts. The disease spreads through airborne droplets from a sneeze or a cough. Unlike the common cold, pertussis develops into coughing fits that can continue for as long as two months, following a one- to two-week period of cold-like symptoms that include a runny nose, mild cough and a low-grade fever. The extreme coughing can prompt extreme fatigue and vomiting.
Milwaukee had an outbreak of approximately 1,200 whooping cough cases in 2004-05. There were concerns then about waning immunity from childhood vaccinations. The pertussis vaccine, which is given in combination with diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, is considered to be approximately 80 percent effective in preventing pertussis. Protection does begin to diminish, however, after approximately three years.