Monday, December 5, 2011

Whooping Cough Still On Increase In McHenry County, Locally

The McHenry County Department of Health reported last week the number of pertussis or whooping cough cases in the county had risen to 154.  McHenry County remains an Illinois hot spot for the disease, accounting for over 15 percent of all the whooping cough cases in the while state.

Cary and, more recently, Woodstock continue to be most heavily affected villages but Lake in the Hills now reports 15 cases with another 8 reported in Huntley and 5 more in Algonquin.

Until immunization was introduced in the 1930s, whooping cough was one of the most frequent and severe diseases of infants and children in the United States killing 5,000 to 10,000 each year.  Spikes in 1908 and 1919 killed about 17,000 each. With shots, by 1949 the number of deaths was below 1,000 and by 1955 below it was 100.  The most recent low was 4 deaths in 1996 but whooping cough's been on the rise since then and last year when ten infants in California died, health officials declared it an epidemic.

McHenry County's outbreak hasn't seen any deaths.  Indeed, it hasn't seen any hospitalizations yet but County Department of Health officials continue to urge residents to get whooping cough booster shots.  "Some people say we ring the siren too early, that it's too soon," said spokesman Debra Quackenbush.  "With an illness like this that can be fatal, I don't think you can do it too soon," she said.

In the graph:  Whooping cough is spreading in McHenry County.

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