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Oakland County is seeing a spike in whooping cough

A doctor with a stethoscope on a young boys naked chest (he's wearing pants though)
user Laura4Smith
Whooping cough cases are on the rise in Oakland County

Oakland County health officials say they’re seeing a spike in whooping cough (AKA pertussis), largely among kids in day care and preschool. That’s likely because the disease is contagious and spreads easily, but kids that age aren’t old enough to have had all their pertussis vaccinations yet.

Since November, the county health department says it's seen 56 confirmed cases of whooping cough, compared with 10 this time last year. The county saw just 59 cases for all of last year. None of those cases has been fatal.

Part of that spike, however, may be because day cares are urging more kids get evaluated, so more whooping cough cases are ending up on the record, rather than going undiagnosed.

That’s Kathleen Forzley's hypothesis. She's the manager of the Oakland County Health Department, and says they're hearing from pediatricians and day cares that parents are more likely to take their kids to see a doctor now if they're showing symptoms.  

“When we have a report of a child with pertussis, it doesn’t matter if it’s a day care or a school, we reach out to that school and work with them with awareness materials to send to parents,” Forzley says. “We encourage anybody who’s had exposure, that if they develop symptoms, they should be evaluated.”

Forzley says she doesn’t think there’s a link between the county’s number of vaccination waivers (which she says have decreased recently) and this rise in whooping cough cases. 

Both the county and the state sent out a health advisory about the spike in whooping cough Wednesday. The state health department spokesperson says Oakland County has the most cases of whooping cough so far this year.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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