You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

Washtenaw County whooping cough cases top 100

By Chelsea Hoedl

Washtenaw County steadily continues to see new cases of whooping cough reported despite the school year being over.

Thumbnail image for 103012_WHOOPING-COUGH-VACCINE.JPG

104 cases of whooping cough have been reported this year.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is caused by close contact with someone infected and is typically transmitted among school-age children, although adult cases do occur.

As of Tuesday, there have been 104 cases of confirmed and probable whooping cough this year. According to Washtenaw County Public Health Department, this is about four times the number of cases typically seen in a year in the county.

“Since school got out we’ve probably seen another 25 cases,” epidemiologist for Washtenaw County Public Health Laura Bauman said. “In 2010, which was our last big outbreak, we had a similar amount of cases break out in the summer as well.”

Bauman said she had hoped with school letting out, the number of cases would decrease because there wouldn’t be as many kids congregating together and passing along contagious infection.

“Most kids are in some kind of summer programming and so we continue to see it spread,” Bauman said.

In 2012, there were 28 cases of whooping cough and in 2011 there were 26. Bauman said the number of cases so far this year is on track with 2010 , when there were 232 confirmed cases.

“We’re at a similar number and we’re just going to have to wait and see if it burns itself out,” Bauman said. “In 2010, there were about 40 cases in September and another 40 in October. Hopefully we won’t see as many this fall.”

In the state of Michigan there are 358 reported cases.

“Washtenaw County is making up essentially a third of the cases in the whole state,” Bauman said. “Often times whooping cough doesn’t circulate equally across a whole area. We’re seeing a much more intense breakout.”

Bauman said the reason why Washtenaw County is seeing such a high number of cases is because the vaccine being given to children only offers 80 percent coverage and about 9 percent of children in Washtenaw County don’t have one or more of the recommended vaccines.

WCPHD is encouraging heightened awareness and alertness for symptoms, as early treatment with antibiotics can prevent the spread of illness and make the infection less severe. Vaccination also may prevent pertussis.

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease of the respiratory tract, which got its more common name from the “whooping” sound an infected person sometimes makes when trying to breath after a coughing spell.

According to WCPH, symptoms often appear like those of a common cold, but a doctor should be contacted if an unusual cough persists for seven days or longer, if coughing comes in bursts or if there is vomiting after coughing spells.

Whooping cough can cause serious illness for those of all ages, but it is most dangerous for children less than 1-year-old and the majority of deaths from whooping cough occur in infants younger than two months of age.

Early detection, vaccination and staying away from others until five days of antibiotics have been received is essential to preventing the spread of whooping cough, according to the WCPHD

For more information visit Washtenaw County Public Health’s website.

Chelsea Hoedl is an intern reporter for She can be reached at


Ruth Kraut

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:23 a.m.

You can read about my family's experience with pertussis here:


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:07 a.m.

One of the most commons ways of pertussis to be transmitted is when an adult who has not been immunized for pertussis comes in close contact with young children (such as new grandparents or neighbors/friends visiting infants). Please ask your physician or immunizing pharmacist about the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

My spouse and I received the vaccination almost 2 years ago. We had the vaccine that included the tetanus booster shot. However, we know decent people who avoid vaccines. It's frustrating, especially when those people are close friends or relatives. I'm grateful there are laws pertaining to children so that parents who avoid vaccines at least need to have their children receive some vaccinations.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

We know "decent" people? Wow!


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

talker, you're wrong about the laws. there are no laws that force parents to have their children immunized.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

HuffPost July last year "The U.S. appears headed for its worst year for whooping cough in more than five decades, with the number of cases rising at an epidemic rate that experts say may reflect a problem with the effectiveness of the vaccine. Nearly 18,000 cases have been reported so far – more than twice the number seen at this point last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. At this pace, the number for the entire year will be the highest since 1959, when 40,000 illnesses were reported. The vaccine that had been given to young children for decades was replaced in the late 1990s following concerns about rashes, fevers and other side effects. It used to be a common threat, with hundreds of thousands of cases annually. Cases gradually dropped after a vaccine was introduced in the 1940s, and the disease came to be thought of as a relic of another age. For about 25 years, fewer than 5,000 cases were reported annually in the U.S. The numbers started to climb again in the 1990s. Vaccinations are supposed to tamp down the amount of infection in the population and make the valleys in the cycles longer, said Pejman Rohani, a University of Michigan researcher who is co-leader of a federally funded study of whooping cough trends. Some parents in California and other states have rebelled against vaccinations and gotten their children exempted from rules that require them to get their shots to enroll in school. Washington state has one of the highest exemption rates in the nation. But the CDC said that does not appear to be a major factor in the outbreak, since most of the youngsters who got sick had been vaccinated."


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:08 a.m.

News-Medical May 2013 " Whooping cough has exploded in the United States..., and many experts suspect ineffective childhood vaccines for the alarming resurgence. Some say the vaccine wears off quicker than public health officials had previously believed. Others suggest that the vaccine protects against illness but does not prevent transmission of the bacterial disease, which is also known as pertussis. But a University of Michigan-led research team has concluded that neither of these proposed mechanisms for the resurgence of pertussis is supported by the best available evidence. In a study that reviewed 30 years of data from Thailand, they found that vaccines provided long-lived—possibly lifelong—protection against the disease and substantially reduced transmission, as well. "What we found goes against much of what is currently suspected about pertussis resurgence," said U-M population ecologist and epidemiologist Pejman Rohani. The researchers found no evidence for a pertussis resurgence in Thailand. In fact, their findings highlighted the success of the country's childhood immunization program, pointing to a vaccine-induced increase in "herd immunity," a reduction in the probability of infection that occurs in a population as the number of immune individuals increases. "We found very few cases overall, and especially in infants," Blackwood said. "So the big underlying finding is that the vaccine is adequately protecting infants from contracting the infection." The situation with pertussis in Thailand cannot be directly compared with trends in the U.S. for many reasons, including the fact that the two countries use different types of whooping cough vaccine. Thailand mainly uses what's called a whole-cell vaccine, while an acellular vaccine is used in the U.S. In addition, the vaccination schedule in the two countries differs slightly. "


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

paul, you're equating morality with compliance with an immunization schedule? really?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:55 a.m.

We put down places like Iran--for good many reasons--but I wounder how bad the flu and other illness are in those countries that enforce strict morals --do we know, do we even care ?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

Keep telling everybody its OK to do what ever you please and then wonder why illness like the flu is so bad today despite the best medicines ever.


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

So does the person have to make a "whooping sound" for it to be pertussis? Or should you just monitor the length of a cough?

Ruth Kraut

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 3:22 a.m.

No--some people (especially adults, and people who have been vaccinated) never, ever whoop. And even for people who do whoop, it usually takes a few weeks to get to that point. It starts out looking more like a cold with a very persistent cough.

Rick Stevens

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

My wife and I got whooping cough and wouldn't wish it on anyone. Just get the shot and avoid the misery.

Linda Peck

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 9:23 p.m.

I had it, too, Rick, and I can testify to that. I will not get any shots, but for sure, that is a bad illness to get. I can see how elderly would be very vulnerable. I am elderly and it was rough on me.

Linda Peck

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

Children are not the only ones who get pertussis and are contagious.

Chelsea Hoedl

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

Linda, you are correct. Adults are also susceptible, but children a more likely to get the infection and death from the infection is much more likely in those less than 3 months old. In Washtenaw County in 2010, 76 percent of cases were those < 1 year to 19 years old. For a complete breakdown visit the following website:

John of Saline

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

Thanks, anti-vaccine idiots.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 3:48 a.m.

what part of the following statement do you have trouble comprehending: "But the CDC said that does not appear to be a major factor in the outbreak, since most of the youngsters who got sick had been vaccinated." one more time, in case you're still struggling: most of the youngsters who got sick had been vaccinated.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

So what's the relative efficacy of not getting vaccinated?


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 1 a.m.

anti-vaccine idiots? mayber you didn't understand about efficacy? from the CDC: "Pertussis vaccines are effective, but not perfect. They typically offer high levels of protection within the first 2 years of getting vaccinated, but then protection decreases over time. This is known as waning immunity. Similarly, natural infection may also only protect you for a few years. In general, DTaP vaccines are 80-90% effective. Among kids who get all 5 doses of DTaP on schedule, effectiveness is very high within the year following the 5th dose – at least 9 out of 10 kids are fully protected. There is a modest decrease in effectiveness in each following year. About 7 out of 10 kids are fully protected 5 years after getting their last dose of DTaP and the other 3 out of 10 kids are partially protected – protecting against serious disease." not perfect, partial, decreasing, waning.... these terms mean that even vaccinated kids can get (and spread) pertussis.


Wed, Jul 24, 2013 : 12:50 a.m.

Yeah, cancer later in life is much better, ha ha


Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 11:24 p.m.

Yeah, let's put Jenny McCarthy on The View.