Wisconsin has highest number of whooping cough cases - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin has highest number of whooping cough cases

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin is leading the country when it comes to its widespread outbreak of whooping cough.

The number of incidences of the respiratory disease per person in Wisconsin is nearly ten times the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It might just feel like bad cold for adults, but it can be deadly for infants.

"I know there's a resurgence so I am concerned about it," says Katherine Manakas. She made sure her two young kids were vaccinated to protect against whooping cough, but she may have forgotten someone.

"I'm always thinking about what's next on their child checks. I'm never really thinking about my own."

Experts say vaccines are just as important for parents.

"Our goal is to protect everybody around those infants. It's called cocooning so that everyone around them is fully immunized—all adults, grandparents, babysitters, everybody," says Diane McHugh, an immunization specialist with Public Health Madison & Dane County.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can be dangerous for infants.

"They have so much mucus buildup and their air passages are so small that they have periods where they can't breathe. Then have complications like pneumonia," McHugh says.

Wisconsin's Department of Health Services says the state has had more than 3,800 confirmed and probable cases of whooping cough this year, including one infant death.

And with 51 incidences for every 100,000 people, we're leading the country.

DHS immunization program manager Dan Hopfensperger says part of it could be better identification of the disease.

"That's not to understate, yes we do have a lot of cases and the more cases you have, the more likely for transmission to other individuals. It breeds itself," he says.

Washington is second to Wisconsin in number of cases, leading some to question why Washington is labeling it an epidemic and Wisconsin is not.

"Labeling it as an epidemic would not necessarily trigger other activities as far as case investigation and control measures," Hopfensperger says.

In Wisconsin, it's considered a widespread outbreak

Experts are looking into whether another form of the vaccine or more boosters might be necessary for better prevention after several people who had gotten whooping cough had also been vaccinated.

But vaccinations are important because even if they're not a hundred percent effective in preventing the disease, they can help minimize its effects.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The U.S. appears headed for its worst year in more than five decades with whooping cough cases, and Wisconsin has the nation's highest rate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says through July 5, the disease occurred in nearly 51 of 100,000 people in Wisconsin. That's nearly 10 times the national average. Washington had the second highest rate, with about 39 cases per 100,000 residents.

Washington has declared an epidemic. Wisconsin has not.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory illness. For adults, it may seem like a bad cold. But, for infants it can potentially be deadly.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports one infant with pertussis died in February in Wisconsin.

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