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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Whooping Cough On Rise In Windham County

The state Health Department is reporting an increase in whooping cough cases in Windham County.

The department has alerted health care providers in the area that the number of confirmed cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, rose to 11 in June. Ten were among children age 3 to 17, while one was an adult. The cases occurred as schools were closing or after they had closed for the summer.

So far in July, the department says there are five more suspected cases. All but one of the confirmed and suspected cases are from Brattleboro.

Deputy State Epidemiologist Susan Schoenfeld says having a rising number of cases within a month in a local area can be characterized as an outbreak.

 “Normally we like to see no cases of pertussis reported," Schoenfeld says. "It’s not uncommon to see sporadic ones from place to place. But to have several – even though the overall number isn’t large – this is certainly much more than we want to see.”

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease caused by a bacterial infection of the lungs. While it's possible that fully immunized children can get whooping cough if it takes hold in a community, the department says vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent serious illness.

Lynne worked for Vermont Public from 2002 to 2022 as a producer/reporter for special news projects.
John worked for VPR in 2001-2021 as reporter and News Director. Previously, John was a staff writer for the Sunday Times Argus and the Sunday Rutland Herald, responsible for breaking stories and in-depth features on local issues. He has also served as Communications Director for the Vermont Health Care Authority and Bureau Chief for UPI in Montpelier.
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