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Posted on Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 11:49 a.m.

Whooping cough cases in Washtenaw County at record levels this season

By Tina Reed


It can manifest itself as a simple cough that won't go away.

Or - as it happened to one Washtenaw County man this year - the whooping cough can lead to coughing so hard it makes a person pass out. Officials say cases of the respiratory illness have reached record levels this season - and they're not sure why.

In 2009, there were at least 81 confirmed cases of whooping cough, otherwise known at pertussis, the highest number since electronic records started in 1992. The second highest number of cases was in 2003, when there were 36 cases of whooping cough.

So far this year, 15 confirmed cases of whooping cough have been recorded. A typical year sees about 20 total cases, said county epidemiologist Laura Bauman.

Last summer, county officials said cases appeared to be up from usual levels. It is not clear why there have been a surge in cases, Bauman said. 

"In public health, we're all trying to figure it out," she said. "We're seeing an increased number of cases across the entire state right now."

Bauman said it's possible improved testing has identified more cases, fewer parents are getting their kids vaccinated or it could simply be part of a disease cycle. Whooping cough is very contagious and like many respiratory illnesses, is spread through droplets that are, for instance, expelled from a cough or sneeze.

Whooping cough, officially named pertussis, has symptoms that include a persistent cough and sudden coughing spells that are so forceful, a person feels he or she might vomit. In children, it can often include a whooping sound when breathing in.

In the worst cases, which typically impact infants who have not finished their vaccination series, whooping cough can lead to hospitalization and even death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says an upsurge of whooping cough seems to occur every three to five years.

Tina Reed covers health and the environment for You can reach her at, call her at 734-623-2535 or find her on Twitter @TreedinAA.


Otto Mobeal

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 9:04 p.m.

More junk science about vaccines! Didn't anyone know that the science, and the doctors, that started the autism-vaccine connection were repudiated when their science proved to be faked? Their article was withdrawn by the publication that originally published it - a rare event. None of their studies could be duplicated, all facbricated junk to push an agenda! Thanks to vaccines, polio has been eradicated in North America. In the 50s there was pandemonium when the vaccine was announced. Doctors offices had long lines. Who wanted their kid to die, live in an iron lung, or wear leg braces the rest of their lives?


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 3:38 p.m.

@technojunkie. Interesting link! I can't really say what i think is causing the Autism. I just feel that not only the amount of vaccines you're to give your infants all at once is too much for their little bodies, but also i dont think that a lot of the stuff/preservatives they add to the vaccines is necessary. Of course, they (being pharmaceutical companies) want their products to last longer for shelf life, but in turn, this stuff is being injected directly into their bodies with no choice. In turn, we have NO idea what the aftermath is in the long run, IF ANY of course............ Of course they can SAY there's no side effects in a control group or WHATEVER........ They just want their products sold...... I think i will eventually, just not when they're this young, get them vaccines. Certain ones... That is........


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 3 p.m.

@littlekeets: it looks like it's vaccines + Tylenol that's the big problem, not the vaccines themselves though the additives make me nervous too (aluminum-based ones more than thimerosal).

Rork Kuick

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 2:34 p.m.

About 50% of kids under 9 who got it last year were never vaccinated. I don't know any estimate of the vaccination rate, but suspect the unvaccinated are overrepresented, as expected. I agree with Burgundy that keeping vax rate high in the herd will help the entire herd, so consider being part of the solution.

dading dont delete me bro

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 2:04 p.m. wouldn't have anything to do w/dr's NOT giving antibiotics out. dr's quote, "it's a virus, it will run it's course" then one month later, sitting in the dr's office, "you might have something else going on in there (your chest). since it has been a month"... my thought, "ya think"?!?


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.

notinypsi, no vaccination is 100% effective. Which is why it's important for everyone to get vaccinated because then there's less of the disease around. And I'm sorry to see a nurse engaging in making people fear vaccines. One person's experience with the no flu is not really evidence of anything.

L. C. Burgundy

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 1:54 p.m.

Because no vaccine works 100% of the time, it is important to maintain high immunization levels to confer herd immunity. When a parent chooses not to immunize their child, they are not making a choice just for their own child - they are unfortunately putting other children at risk of disease too, even kids who parents had them immunized.

Tina Reed

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 1:50 p.m.

As referred to in the article, there is a possibility there is a local increase in whooping cough incidence due to fewer kids getting vaccinated. However, health experts also say they believe there may be a natural three to five year cycle that would lead to an uptick in cases or there just might be better surveillance. As for getting whooping cough after getting vaccinated, it also seems those who get vaccinated against whooping cough do not get total immunity. It also appears the immunity developed against whooping cough because of a vaccine does wear off. Booster shots for teens and adults are recommended, Bauman said.


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 1:43 p.m.

I'm not a big fan of vaccines and i'm also an R.N. I have twins under the age of 1 and they are not vaccinated. Perhaps if they quit putting crap in the vaccines i'd consider it. I also have been vaccinated numerous times for the chicken pox vaccine and i'm NOT immune to it still, my titer doesn't budge. I also have NEVER been vaccineated for the flu vaccine and i haven't had the flu in atleast 15 yrs.


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 1:12 p.m.

My son was vaccinated and still came down with Whooping Cough. Odd I thought I was protecting my son from getting it from others who were not vaccinated. Apparently that's not true.


Mon, Mar 8, 2010 : 12:04 p.m.

They're not sure why? I would guess the increased number of people not getting their kids vaccinated would play a huge role here. I'm no epidemiologist but that seems rather obvious.