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Doctors detail telltale signs of whooping cough as 'probable' cases linger in De Pere

Posted at 6:07 PM, Apr 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-18 13:25:41-04

DE PERE (NBC 26) — De Pere's Health Department says there are "probable" whooping cough cases in the city, with an "outbreak" of at least two cases causing the department to issue a memo to parents at De Pere High School this week.

  • The health department and school district did not comment on the exact number of cases
  • The health department held its regularly scheduled vaccine clinic Wednesday, offering tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap and DTaP) vaccines to adults and under-insured children
  • The common name for pertussis is whooping cough
  • Doctors said the bacterial disease is highly contagious, and begins like a cold before the symptoms worsen into fits of coughing
  • One doctor said he is seeing higher rates of pertussis among adolescents and young adults
  • Video shows

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

A vaccine clinic held here after a probable outbreak of at least two cases of whooping cough. We're talking with healthcare professionals about the disease.

"When you say 'probable cases,' what does that mean?" NBC 26's Karl Winter asked.

"Without laboratory confirmation, the clinical symptoms align with the illness," said Chrystal Woller, director of the De Pere Health Department.

De Pere Health sent out a memo to De Pere High School parents earlier this week, warning them about at least two probable cases.

They would not say exactly how many, and the school district told NBC 26, "the district cannot comment on individual student health issues."

"Whooping cough. One of the main symptoms is in the name. What are the others that people should know about?" Winter asked.

"It'll often start out with symptoms very similar to a typical respiratory infection: runny nose, congestion, maybe a minor cough, often not a fever," said Dr. Steven Gale, a family medicine physician at Prevea Health.

But then it can worsen, with doctors saying coughing can last for 3-6 weeks.

"You can see more prolonged coughing spells," said Dr. Abby Smolcich," a pediatrician with ThedaCare, "that can sometimes end with a sharp inhalation that sounds like a 'whoop,' which is where the name comes from."

They say whooping cough is most dangerous for young children — who could stop breathing — but that adults contract it too.

Which is why they recommend visiting a vaccine clinic — like the one De Pere Health held Wednesday — if you need it.

The health department will continue to issue exposure notices to groups who may have been exposed to the disease.

Its next vaccination clinic is scheduled for May 15.