Pertussis Increases in the Community

For Immediate Release: November 15, 2017

     With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching and families gathering, the Winnebago County Health Department wants to make the public aware of a community outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough). Since mid-October, there have been 19 confirmed cases of pertussis in the community including students enrolled in the Harlem, Rockton, and Rockford School Districts.

     Pertussis spreads from person to person by coughing or sneezing or spending a lot of time near one another. 

     While persons of any age can get pertussis, it is very serious in babies under one year of age, pregnant women, and immune compromised individuals - potentially leading to hospitalization and even death.

     Protect your family by avoiding contact with anyone who has symptoms. Caregivers, including parents and grandparents, should be vaccinated against pertussis.

     Parents need to be vigilant in watching their children for symptoms of pertussis and should contact their doctor if symptoms appear. Adults and children should stay home when they are sick and practice good respiratory hygiene including covering their cough, disposing of soiled tissues, and washing their hands.

Symptoms include:

  • Runny nose, low-grade fever

  • Fits of many, rapid coughs followed by a high‐pitched “whoop” sound

  • Throwing up during or after coughing fits

  • Coughing may be worse at night, disrupting sleep

  • Being very tired after coughing fits

  • Apnea – a pause in breathing (in babies)

For more information on Pertussis visit the CDC website at or the Winnebago County Health Department website at Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or contact us at 815‐720‐4050.