Letter sent home to parents after confirmed case of pertussis at school in Whitefish Bay

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Whooping Cough

Whooping Cough

WHITEFISH BAY — A letter has been sent home to parents of students in the Whitefish Bay School District regarding a confirmed case of pertussis (whooping cough) at Cumberland Elementary School.

The letter indicates the child with pertussis was up-to-date on immunizations, but still contracted the illness:

September 30, 2015

Dear Parent(s),

There has been a confirmed case of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) at Cumberland School.  This child was up to date with their immunizations but still caught the disease. Your child may have been exposed  during the past two weeks at school.

Pertussis is a contagious bacterial disease that affects the respiratory tract and symptoms may initially resemble those of a common cold   Persons of any age can become infected, but the illness is most serious in infants and young children.

Pertussis begins with cold symptoms and a cough which becomes much worse over 1-2 weeks.  Symptoms usually include a long series of coughs (“coughing fits”) followed by a whooping noise.  However, older children, adults, and very young infants may not develop the whoop.   There is generally no fever.  People with pertussis may have a series of coughs followed by vomiting, turning blue or difficulty catching their breath.  The cough is worse at night and cough medicines usually don’t alleviate the cough.

If your child comes down with cold symptoms that include a cough, talk with your child’s doctor without delay and ask for a nasal swab to confirm the diagnosis.  Tell him/her that there is a case of pertussis in the area.  Treating with antibiotics early can help your child get well faster and lower the chances of spreading the disease to others.  Once the swab is taken, your child needs to stay home until the results are known.  Even though your child was vaccinated against pertussis, the vaccine’s efficacy can wane after a period of time.

If you have any questions, please call me at the high school clinic.

Jackie Turkal, RN, BSN

School Health Coordinator

Whitefish Bay Schools

CLICK HERE to learn more about pertussis and its symptoms via the CDC.