APPLETON, Wis (WFRV) Whooping cough took no pity on Wisconsin this year. Newly released data shows the state had the most cases of the respiratory infection in the U.S. in 2012. According to the State Division of Public Health, there were roughly 5,700 confirmed or probable cases. Take for example - the city of Appleton - where the number of reported cases hit a 50-year-high.
For health care officials in Appleton dealing with whooping cough, 2012 has been a very unusual year.
"This has been a very busy year for us," said City Public Health Officer, Kurt Eggebrecht. While whooping cough, known as pertussis, is finally on the decline, this year in Appleton health officials saw hundreds of cases.
"Normally we see 6 to 10 case a year, this year we've seen 234 cases - so it's an unusual year for us," said Eggebrecht.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection, that seems like a bad cold in adults, but can be deadly in infants. Symptoms include a runny nose, fever, and a persistent cough. Statewide the Centers for Disease Control say 93 of every 100,000 state residents came down with whooping cough in 2012 - a rate eight times the national average.
"We're seeing a much more unusual trend - that we haven't experienced in 50 years."
This year over 5,700 cases were confirmed in Wisconsin. The last time the illness took as strong a hold in the state was 2004, when more than 5,600 cases were reported. But identifying the reasons behind the numbers are hard for the experts to pin down.
"I know good minds are looking at that for that, looking for answers," said Eggebrecht. "Every eight years you may see a spike like now, so hopefully that will come down in the coming years."
Their best advice to avoid the illness is to make sure you get vaccinated. "One great way to stop the spread of pertussis is to get vaccinated," said Miki Gould, an infection preventionist from Thedacare. "Get your children, get yourself as an adult vaccinated." At least one person died from whooping cough this year in Wisconsin - an infant who passed away in February.