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updated: 11/4/2011 11:44 PM

McHenry County pertussis outbreak grows to 38

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McHenry County's pertussis outbreak has grown to 38, and another school -- St. John Lutheran in Algonquin -- has been added to the growing list of schools reporting cases.

Several schools on that list have reported an increase in the number of students infected with the highly contagious illness -- also known as whooping cough -- including 31 in Cary, five in Crystal Lake and one each in Algonquin and Lake in the Hills.

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The cases include 25 at Cary-Grove High school, two at Cary Junior High School, three at Deerpath Elementary, one at Briargate Elementary, one at Bernotas Middle School, four at Lundal Middle School, one at St. John's Lutheran Church and School and one at Martin Elementary.

Two vaccination clinics have been scheduled, one from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, Nov. 5, at the Algonquin Township Building, 3702 Route 14, Crystal Lake, and from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the McHenry Department of Health's Crystal Lake office, 100 N Virginia Street. Vaccinations cost $50. Medicaid will be accepted for children ages 11 to 18 with a valid card. The cost is $15 for children ages 11 to 18 who are uninsured or underinsured, and uninsured adults 19 and older who meet income requirements.

To minimize the spread of infection, wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, cough into tissues and dispose of them properly, and stay home if you are sick.

Students who are receiving antibiotics need to remain at home for five days after starting them to complete the course of treatment. Returning to school earlier could allow pertussis to spread.

The health department reported 51 cases of pertussis in 2009 and nine cases in 2010.

Pertussis is highly contagious and easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms including cough, runny nose, sneezing and low-grade fever can last several weeks and lead to complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis or pulmonary hypertension. Pertussis is especially dangerous for children younger than 4 to 6 who are not fully immunized; people with compromised immune systems and the elderly.

If you or your child have symptoms, or if you have question about whether the vaccine is needed, call your doctor.

For information about pertussis, visit www.mcdh.info or call the department of health's hotline at (815) 334-2800.

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