Pertussis cases growing in Chicago

The number of cases of pertussis, a highly contagious bacterial infection, has grown throughout the Chicago area this year, with 1,100 confirmed cases through November, up from 1,057 for all of 2010.
Public health officials fear the worst is yet to come this year as students prepare for winter break while families get ready for holiday travel, the Chicago Tribune reports.
"There is going to have to be a change in strategy at some point," Debra Quackenbush, a spokeswoman for the McHenry County Health Department, said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "I don't see an end in sight. The vaccine is out there. The education is out there. Now people need to do something with that."
In McHenry County, what started with eight cases at Cary-Grove High School in Cary has grown into an outbreak with more than 200 cases.
"The majority of cases are definitely at the schools," Julie Morita, the deputy commissioner with the city's health department, said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "You can only wonder where the tipping point is going be on whether or not people are going to take this seriously."
Some counties in the state are reporting their highest numbers in nearly five years. Experts have theorized that the general increase may be a result in genetic changes in the bacterium causing the disease to become more potent, the cyclical nature of the disease and a greater awareness of the disease, resulting in more reports.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 27,550 cases of pertussis with 27 deaths reported in the United States in 2010. Twenty-five of the deaths were children under one.