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Lincoln County continues to fight pertussis outbreak


MERRILL, Wis. (WSAU) - A persistent outbreak of whooping cough in Lincoln County and Merrill has local health officials urging residents to get vaccinated.

109 cases have been confirmed since the first of the year, but there's an easy way to stop the spread. “Vaccination continues to be the best way to protect yourselves and others against pertussis,” said Mindy Schwarz, Lincoln County Public Health Nurse. Pertussis is a contagious bacterial disease that is spread by the heavy coughing it causes. Cases can be mild and still contagious and do not always present with the characteristic 'whooping cough'.

A number of cases are still being tracked through the High School and Middle School in Merrill. Schwartz says anyone who has been coughing and has a fever should not be going into the public. "Go to your healthcare provider and get tested." Those who have been diagnosed and prescribed treatment need to complete at least five days of antibiotics before returning to work or school.

Families with a newborn are encouraged to be immunized as a group in order to shield infants from the disease. Children under the age of two months are not able to get the pertussis shots, and can develop serious complications if they catch the disease.

Call the Lincoln County Health Department at 715-536-0307 to make an appointment for a vaccination. Cost is $5.00 for the pertussis containing vaccine.