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Washtenaw County sees a spike in whooping cough cases

Man covering his cough
Rebecca Brown
Man covering his cough

With over twenty cases this year, whooping cough is on the rise in Washtenaw County. So far, whooping cough cases are mostly concentrated among teens and young adults. That's because those groups are most likely to congregate in large crowds, like at school.

Laura Bauman is the epidemiology program manager with the Washtenaw County Health Department. She says the department is concerned the illness will spread to more vulnerable groups.

“It’s starting to show up in our teenagers and our young adults. We’re kind of seeing it start there. But the concern is that it will spread beyond those groups, and partially babies, infants, are very vulnerable to pertussis, to whooping cough.”

Bauman says this is the first spike in cases in the area since the pandemic.

“Whooping cough disappeared during the first three years of the pandemic. We only saw just a couple of cases. And that was in huge contrast to prior to the pandemic when we were dealing with 50-100 cases per year."

The health department is investigating over twenty cases of whooping cough in Washtenaw County. However, because symptoms are similar to any other respiratory illness, identifying whooping cough can be difficult.

Bauman says those in close contact with a whooping cough case are being advised to isolate and take antibiotics.

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Taylor Bowie was a WEMU reporter from October 2023 to June 2024.
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