There have been 68 confirmed cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, since June 1, bringing the state total to 201 cases this year. That already marks the most cases in a year since 1997 when there were 283 confirmed cases, following 280 cases in 1996.
The current outbreak is spread across the state with nine confirmed cases in Bennington County since June 1. The only counties with more cases are Chittenden with 23 and Addison with 12, according to the DOH.
Three infants have been hospitalized with confirmed or probable cases of whooping cough since June 1. No deaths have been reported. Whooping cough is most severe in infants. More than half of infants less than one year of age with pertussis require hospitalization. Many infants are infected by family members or caregivers.
Whooping cough is highly contagious and caused by a bacterial infection of the lungs. The infection usually begins with mild upper respiratory symptoms and an irritating cough that gradually worsens to include spasms of coughing, possible whooping, short periods without breathing, or gagging or vomiting after coughing spells. Coughing usually lasts at least two weeks.
"Anyone who has a persistent cough should be evaluated by his or her health care provider," Breena Holmes, MD, maternal and child health director for the DOH said in a press release. "People with suspected or confirmed pertussis should be kept out of school, work, and group activities until five days of antibiotic therapy have been completed."