Wright County Public Health reports that pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, has been confirmed in 77 people since the beginning of the year.
Officials say most of the diagnosed cases are in school age children but adults and children as young as four months have become ill. In recent years, more cases of pertussis have occurred in Wright County. Although in 2011 there 35 laboratory confirmed cases, in 2010 there were 97 cases and in 2009 there were 39 cases. Prior to that in 2008 there were just 18 cases and only one in 2007. Experts say since pertussis may be milder in adults and older children, they can pass on the disease without knowing it. The risk to infants and elderly is greatest because of lower immunity. Pertussis can lead to more serious illness such as pneumonia, or even rib fractures from coughing. Pertussis is caused by bacteria that spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing.