Whooping cough outbreak hits McHenry County

December 1, 2011 (CARY, Ill.)

McHenry County has been hit hardest with 164 reported cases in 13 communities. But the disease is spreading to other counties in the Chicago area, too.

Hailey Davis and her mother Cheryl arrived at the McHenry County Health Department Thursday night, eager to raise awareness about whooping cough, which is highly contagious.

"I would cough a lot and sometimes it would be hard to breathe," said Hailey Davis.

Hailey was sick for a month, forcing her relatives to protect themselves.

"The doctor...said, 'go ahead and get a prescription for the rest of the family,'" said Cheryl Davis.

The highest number of whooping cough cases in McHenry County is in Cary. Health officials say there are 54 cases in the community, most of them at Cary Grove High School.

"It did start, as I mentioned, with the cheerleaders, it moved to the football team, the cross country team and the band. It spread pretty much throughout the high school," said Mary Lou Ludicky, McHenry County, communicable disease coordinator.

Health officials say don't ignore the symptoms, get tested, stay home five days when you take antibiotics, and get vaccinated.

"Our main concern is with infants and babies that haven't been fully vaccinated because they get hit the hardest when it comes to having pertussis," said Ludicky .

Whooping cough cases are up in Lake, Suburban Cook, and DuPage County.

"I'm perfectly fine now," said Hailey Davis.

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