MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health has confirmed 78 suspected or lab-confirmed cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, in the county since May 16.

Forty-eight cases were suspected or confirmed on June 1.

Disease-prevention specialists encourage individuals to follow guidelines in an effort to ensure the health and safety of everyone.

“We continue to have pertussis circulating in our community,” said Karen Crimmings, disease prevention and investigation service manager for the Health Department.

She said 78 was “a fairly significant amount of cases” for Cerro Gordo County. While spreading of the illness appears to be slowing down locally, the Health Department still wants people to be aware of it and take appropriate precaution to help prevent it from spreading.

“We recommend people seek medical attention if they are experiencing a persistent cough,” Crimmings said. “It’s very important that individuals being tested for pertussis finish five days of antibiotics before going anywhere in public.”

Pertussis is highly contagious and can be serious, even deadly for infants.

Crimmings said adolescents and adults who have not received a pertussis-containing vaccination since childhood are no longer immune to the illness.

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The Health Department is encouraging those with persistent coughs to contact their medical provider to be checked for pertussis. The cough may have the following symptoms:

• Coughing “fits” making it difficult to breathe.

• More severe symptoms at night interfering with sleep.

• Vomiting.

• Coughs ending with a high-pitched “whoop” sound when breathing in after a series of coughs (this is most common among young children).

Individuals in need of the vaccine should contact their medical provider or their local health department.

The Cerro Gordo County Public Health Department’s Immunization Clinic offers the Tdap vaccine. The Immunization Clinic is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to noon and 12:30-4 p.m.

For more information about immunizations, visit the health department website at www.cghealth.com or call 641-421-9324.

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