The number of Will County whooping cough cases in 2012 has already surpassed the total number reported for all of 2011 -- 34 this year vs. 28 in 2011.
As a result, the is joining with the Northern Illinois Health Consortium to urge parents to make sure their children's vaccinations are up to date so they can prevent them from contracting the illness.
This year, the state of Illinois has a new requirement that for sixth- and ninth-grade students must show proof of having received a single dose of Tdap, the whooping cough (also known as pertussis) booster vaccination.
“Diseases that have been practically eliminated in the U.S. are just a plane ride away, so while we are seeing near record low cases of some vaccine-preventable diseases here, the viruses and bacteria that cause them still exist and are a threat,” Dr. Julie Morita, medical director of the Chicago Department of Public Health Immunization Program, said in a media release.
While most vaccine-preventable diseases have become rare, some outbreaks still occur, the release said.
In Illinois, more than 1,500 cases of whooping cough were reported in 2011, with the majority of cases in children under 18 years of age, an increase of more than 40 percent in 2011, the release said.
Through July 2012, Illinois had already recorded more than 1,200 cases, putting it fifth in the country for number of caes. The only states with a higher number are Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota and New York.
Most children are vaccinated against whooping cough before entering kindergarten. However, a booster dose (Tdap) is necessary because protection from the pre-school vaccines decreases over time.
To reduce the number of whooping cough cases, children 11 and older and unvaccinated adults should receive this booster as soon as possible. Whooping cough is easily transmitted in schools.
Parents should discuss Tdap and all recommended vaccines with their healthcare providers when taking children for back-to-school physicals. For vaccination schedules, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html.