EDWARDSVILLE — Cases of whooping cough and chicken pox have been reported in Edwardsville.
The Edwardsville school district reported to parents Wednesday that a student with chicken pox and another student with whooping cough have both been reported at Liberty Middle School.
Chicken pox is caused by the varicella zoster virus and is highly contagious. It is preventable through a vaccine that is required by Illinois school districts.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection spread through coughing and sneezing. It is also preventable through vaccination, though maintaining the immunity requires booster shots every 10 years for adults.
Both illnesses can lead to serious complications or even death in infants, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
Parents are warned to watch for symptoms:
* Pertussis appears like a common cold with runny nose, sneezing, low fever and a mild cough. The cough worsens over a week or two and creates a spasmodic burst of rapid coughing with a characteristic whooping sound, which is violent enough to sometimes cause patients to vomit or black out.
* Chicken pox presents with a fever, exhaustion and itchy rash that starts as little red spots on the body, then on the face. The spots eventually change into clear blisters filled with fluid, and can break open into a scab that itches badly.
Parents are urged to contact their child's physician if symptoms appear, or to call the Madison County Health Department at 692-8954, ext. 2. Adults also should check their own immunization history and determine whether boosters are needed.
Representatives at the Madison and St. Clair county health departments could not be reached regarding any other cases that might have occurred in the area.
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2501.