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45 cases of whooping cough reported in Henderson County

FILE - Health officials reported a jump in whooping cough (pertussis) cases in Henderson County -- increasing from 36 to 45 cases on Friday.  (Photo credit: MGN)

Health officials reported a jump in whooping cough cases in Henderson County -- increasing from 36 to 45 cases on Friday.

County health officials say whooping cough is a serious respiratory infection caused by the pertussis bacteria. It affects the lungs and breathing tubes, and it's easily spread when someone with the infection coughs or sneezes.

The outbreak first started in November when the illness turned up in five Henderson County schools.

Park Ridge Health has enacted visitor restrictions due to the sharp increase in whooping cough cases in the area.

About 1,000 people in schools and the community have been identified as having close contact with someone who has whooping cough, according to the county's department of health.

Health officials say symptoms can develop up to 21 days after exposure. Coughing fits that may cause vomiting and make it hard to breathe can begin 1-2 weeks after first symptoms and can last for months.

If you have been notified that you or a family member may have been exposed to whooping cough, health officials advise:

  • If the person who had contact with a case has symptoms, stay home to keep others from getting sick and contact your doctor for appropriate care. If the doctor thinks you may have whooping cough and gives you an antibiotic, you should stay home until you finish taking the medication.
  • If the person who had contact does NOT have symptoms but has an infant, pregnant woman or someone with a weakened immune system in their home, contact the health department or school nurse.

Click here to learn more about whooping cough and its risks

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