Confirmed Case of Pertussis (Whooping Cough) in Neighboring School District

healthA student in the neighboring Jackson school district has come down with the highly contagious Whooping Cough disease, the district said today.

In a letter to parents, the district released the following information.

The district was notified today that a student at McAuliffe Middle School has a confirmed case of pertussis, which is commonly known as whooping cough. The student affected is receiving the appropriate treatment and — when he or she returns to school — he or she will no longer be contagious.

We have been in contact with the Ocean County Health Department and we will continue to monitor the situation in our district. If additional cases arise, we will again notify parents. Below is some important health information for parents and staff that can be used to monitor your own health and the health of your children.

  • Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by a cough or a sneeze. It begins with cold symptoms and a cough, which become much worse over 1-2 weeks. Symptoms usually include a long series of coughing fits followed by a “whooping’’ noise. However, older children, adults and very young infants may not develop the whoop. There is generally only a slight fever.
  • People with pertussis may have a series of severe coughing fits followed immediately by vomiting, turning blue, or difficulty catching breath. The cough is often worse at night, and cough medicines usually do not help alleviate the cough.
  • If your child has been around someone with pertussis, s/he might become sick with the disease. This is especially true if your child is not up-to-date with his/her pertussis vaccine shots. Even if your child’s shots are up-to-date, s/he might still get pertussis.
  • If your child has been in contact with someone with pertussis, antibiotics prescribed by your doctor may prevent him/her from becoming ill. If your child is already sick, giving antibiotics early can help your child get well faster and lower the chances of spreading the disease to others.

For your information, we are including the following facts and recommendations from the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services:

  • If your child comes down with cold symptoms that include a cough, talk to your child’s doctor immediately. Tell the doctor that pertussis has been identified at your child’s school.
  • It is generally recommended that those persons having close contact with a pertussis case receive antibiotics from their doctor to help prevent them from getting pertussis.
  • Do not send your child to school if s/he has any signs or symptoms of pertussis.
  • Infants under one year old, especially those under six months, are most likely to have severe symptoms if they develop pertussis. When possible, young infants should be kept away from people with a cough. Infants with any coughing illness should be seen promptly by their doctor.
  • Pertussis vaccine has until recently, been given only to children under 7 years old. However, a new adolescent and adult pertussis booster vaccine is now available for person’s ages 10 – 64 years. If you have children who have not been completely immunized against pertussis (particularly infants under one year) we recommend you now talk to your child’s doctor about the benefits of vaccination.

If you have concerns regarding your child’s health, we recommend you contact your primary care physician for any care needed. Should you not have a primary care physician, you may contact the Ocean County Health Dept. at (732) 341-9700.

There are many excellent resources available about pertussis, some of which we have listed below. If you have any general concerns or questions about pertussis, you can contact your school nurse or the Ocean County Health Department.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pertussis:

http://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/documents/faq/pertussis_faq.pdf

 

Additional Info on Pertussis from the Centers of Disease Control:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pertussis/default.htm

 

Preventing Pertussis:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pertussis/downloads/PL-dis-pertussis-color-office.pdf

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