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Students at Ann Arbor Schools Diagnosed with Whooping Cough

The number of pertussis cases in Washtenaw County has dropped significantly in the past two years, but the highly contagious disease is still circulating.

In Ann Arbor Public Schools, at least three different schools, including Huron High School and Tappan Middle School School, have reported cases of whooping cough this fall.

Susan Cerniglia of the Washtenaw County Health Department said there are cases of pertussis in schools throughout the county, but no particular school is having an outbreak.

In recent years, pertussis has had a resurgence with 199 cases in 2013 in Washtenaw County. The number of cases dropped to 110 in 2014, and 54 so far in 2015.

Cerniglia said the health department has seen it spread in areas with lower vaccine rates.

Cerniglia she said the new vaccine is less effective than a past version. However, Cerniglia said, the new vaccine can still prevent serious cases of the disease.

"We still recommend the vaccination for anyone eligible. Vaccination and basic hygiene are the best ways to prevent infection," she said.

Vaccines also help protect the most vulnerable population, infants, who have a higher rate of death from pertussis than other populations, she said.

Cerniglia said it's important to get treatment in suspected cases of pertussis, which helps control the disease.

Symptoms include a low-grade fever, intermittent bursts of coughing, vomiting after coughing spells, and a cough with or without a "whoop" lasting seven days or longer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Written by Lindsay Knake is the K-12 education reporter for The Ann Arbor News.

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