The Madison County Health Department is working with Highland High School to control an outbreak of whooping cough.
There have been a total of four cases reported at the school since November, the latest of which was reported to parents Friday. Two or more cases is considered an outbreak, according to the health department.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly-contagious respiratory disease that is spread to another person by coughing or sneezing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is especially dangerous for infants and people with weakened immune systems.
According to the CDC, the early symptoms of whooping cough appear to be nothing more than the common cold, including a runny nose, low-grade fever and mild, occasional cough.
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After one to two weeks, whooping cough can cause fits of many, rapid coughs. The coughing fits can be followed by vomiting and exhaustion.
The CDC offers short videos on its website, so people can hear what whooping cough sounds like.
The Madison County Health Department advises that older children and adults, including pregnant women, get a pertussis booster shot called Tdap to protect themselves. Contact a doctor or the Madison County Health Department at 618-692-8954 to find a vaccine provider.
No other Madison County schools have reported cases of whooping cough, according to the health department.
- Pertussis is commonly known as whooping cough because of the “whooping” sound that is made when gasping for air after a fit of coughing.
- Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more; this disease is sometimes known as the “100 day cough.”
- Pertussis can cause serious illness in babies, children, teens and adults and can even be life-threatening, especially in babies.
- Approximately half of babies younger than 1 year old who get pertussis need treatment in the hospital.
- The most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination with DTaP for babies and children and with Tdap for preteens, teens and adults.
- Vaccination of pregnant women with Tdap is especially important to help protect babies.
- Vaccinated children and adults can become infected with and spread pertussis; however, disease is typically much less serious in vaccinated people.
- Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics, which are used to control the symptoms and to prevent infected people from spreading the disease.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention