Wisconsin sees record number of whooping cough cases in 2012 - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wisconsin sees record number of whooping cough cases in 2012

MADISON (WKOW)-- The year 2012 will go down as one of the worst years for whooping cough with the highest number of cases in over 50 years. Wisconsin has the highest number of cases in the country.

As of December 14th Wisconsin Public Health announced over 5,700 cases of Pertussis commonly known as Whooping Cough. It's eight times higher than the national average and nearly five times higher than in 2011.

Cases have been reported in nearly every age group, but by large the most common is children between 10 and 15 years old.

"We seem to see some of that immunization waning right there at that 10 to 15-year-old age range. They are recommending that adolescents and pre-teens should have a booster which is when you get your Tetanus shot, get one that has the Pertussis in it so you get that additional booster," says Epidemiologist Ellen Smith.

Experts say the disease spreads quickly in cold and dry conditions which is why they think Wisconsin might be the worst state for cases this year. Numbers show 93 out of every 100,000 people in Wisconsin contracted Whooping Cough in 2012.

Experts say that number could increase by the end of the year, because late December is one of the worst times for spreading the disease.

"With the holiday shopping everybody congregates in the malls so when you start to put crowds together you start to put a lot of people indoors together, germs and things will spread," Smith explains.

As bad as the numbers look they're not unheard of. Back in 2004 Wisconsin Public Health saw more than 5,600 cases in the state.

Epidemiologists suggest common sense prevention. Keeping up to date with vaccinations, teaching your kids to cover their coughs, and plenty of hand washing.

Of the 5,700 confirmed cases this year only one of them was fatal. An infant died this past February.

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