Whooping cough spreading through Waukesha Co. schools

CREATED Mar 18, 2014

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BROOKFIELD - A highly contagious respiratory disease is spreading through some schools in Waukesha County.  There is one more probable case of whooping cough to report.  It's at Brookfield East High School.  

Despite a letter that went home to parents, Elmbrook Schools Superintendent Mark Hansen tells us one case is no reason for alarm, but students who walk these halls aren't so sure.

Kalli Leutenegger's a bit more cautious of germs today. Last semester, about 30 students at Pilgrim Park Middle School, just four miles from Brookfield East High School got whooping cough.
 
"My mom talked about it a little bit and she's like a lot of people are sick and like be careful, wash your hands all the time," said Leutenegger.
 
"There was a lot more concern when it was at Pilgrim Park just because there were so many cases," said Rosie Bauer, student.
 
The Waukesha County Health Department confirms Brookfield East now has its very first case of suspected pertussis.
 
"A little concerned. I mean everybody's sick right now so like there's a lot of coughing. Now, I feel like I'm gonna be oh my God, don't cough on me," said Leutenegger.
 
A letter to parents, still on the Brookfield East website, says this particular case affected a high school junior.
 
"I was really thankful for the letter and appreciate being kept in the loop. I do think these kids are exposed to a petri dish of germs on a day to day basis and we just all have to be careful," said Heather Scott, parent.
 
We asked another parent, Athena Delapena, if she has given any advice to her son since they received the letter. "Just if he started to develop a cough, we just kinda need to watch it a little bit," said Delapena.
 
Doctors say a cough that lasts over a week is something to watch for, also a cough that makes it difficult to catch your breath, and a cough followed by a whooping sound or vomiting could be signs of pertussis. It's wise to learn the A-B-V's of pertussis.  "A" antibiotics can fight it.  "B" babies who get pertussis are more susceptible to complications, even death.  And "V" vaccination is the best protection. Though vaccinations are not 100 percent, they can lessen the severity of whooping cough.
 
Late Tuesday afternoon, we spoke with a pertussis expert at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.  Their reports indicate the state has seen 91 cases since January.  That's down significantly.  The same period two years ago had nearly 800 cases.  Right now, the hardest hit area in our viewing area is Walworth County. It's also important to note that no one has died from pertussis this year.  According to DHS, infants have the worst chance of recovery from pertussis.