Submitted to the Herald Review

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Local health department officials believe an increase of pertussis (whooping cough) among the Amish community in the region will likely lead to additional cases.

According to a release from the Central Michigan District Health Department (CMDHD), whooping cough cases primarily have come from Clare County, but also are being reported in Osceola and Isabella counties.

While the cases of whooping cough are mostly affecting Amish families in the region, the health department said normal summer activities like camps, church events, parties and festivals increase the possibility of the disease spreading.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe.

Starting out like the common cold, whooping cough’s initial symptoms last about one week. A cough, which oftentimes is severe, then develops and can last as long as 12 weeks. Young infants can have difficulty breathing, may need to be hospitalized and may even die due to whooping cough. This disease is very contagious and is spread by respiratory droplets from coughing. People with whooping cough can transmit the germ for four weeks after becoming ill.

The best way to prevent pertussis is to get vaccinated, CMDHD said in the release. The health department recommends parents review their children’s immunization records to be certain they have received all of their immunizations. Children usually receive a series of the vaccine in early infancy and another dose before starting school. Adolescents and adults also need to get a booster dose to help protect them as they get older.

CMDHD, which serves Arenac, Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Osceola and Roscommon counties, recommends anyone with pertussis should stay home until five days of antibiotic treatment have been completed. People who live with someone with pertussis should talk to their doctor about receiving a course of antibiotics to prevent the spread of the infection.

For additional information, residents are urged to contact their primary care physician or their local health department.