31 cases of whooping cough detected in Wisconsin county

La Crosse County, Wis., has seen 31 cases of pertussis — whooping cough — in the last three weeks, according to a statement released by the La Crosse County Health Department on Tuesday.

Most of the cases have occurred among teens, but infants and adults have also been infected. Nurses working with the county health department are contacting infected persons and recommending treatment and isolation to prevent further spread of the highly contagious respiratory disease.

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Pertussis is characterized by uncontrollable, violent coughing, which can persist for weeks or months. The bacteria are spread from hand-to-hand contact, sneezing or coughing. Infants, young children and the elderly are at the highest risk for complications. For babies less than a year old, the illness can be deadly.

Despite high rates of vaccination, pertussis outbreaks can still occur due to waning immunity in vaccinated individuals.

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