Health: Whooping cough hits Middle Park High School
Sky-Hi Daily News
A Middle Park High School student has been diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
At Tuesday’s East Grand Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Robb Rankin informed the board about the ill student.
Rankin also told the board members that a letter from the Grand County Public Health Nursing Service has already been sent home with students to alert parents about the outbreak of whooping cough.
Public health nurses will be at the high school today to offer Tdap (tetanus, diptheria and pertussis) vaccinations to students. All 10th-graders are required by state law to have a Tdap vaccination this year. Parents were sent a permission form to sign to allow the nurses to give the vaccinations.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a contagious illness that is spread by coughs or sneezes. Once the infection develops, the victim is overcome with coughing fits. Pertussis may be very severe in infants and young children, resulting in hospitalization, seizures, long-term neurological problems and even death.
In 2003, an outbreak of whooping cough as well as colds and flu occurred in the East Grand School District just prior to the Thanksgiving break. Due to the high rate of illness and absenteeism, the district canceled school for a day.
In the letter sent to district parents this week, the county’s Public Health Nursing Service is recommending the following actions:
– Contact your physician or health care provider if you have a cough.
– If diagnosed with pertussis, complete a course of an appropriate antibiotic for pertussis.
– Students or staff members of the district diagnosed with pertussis cannot return to school/child care until they have completed five days of an appropriate antibiotic.
– Review the DTaP/Tdap immunization records of all members of your household and arrange for vaccinations if not up to date.
The Public Health Nursing Service recommends that each household review the immunization records for all children, adolescents and adults to ensure they are up-to-date on their DTaP/Tdap shots.
DTAP vaccine is administered to children under the age of 7. A single dose of Tdap vaccine is recommended for persons between the age of 11 and 64 years.
Pertussis can occur in infants and young children who have not completed the prescribed three doses of pertussis vaccine. The illness can also occur in immunized persons because the immunity from the vaccinations typically wears off by adolescence.
From exposure to the illness, it usually takes seven to 10 days to develop symptoms of pertussis. However, the illness can develop as early as four days or as late as 21 days after exposure.
Pertussis begins with a cough that progressively becomes more severe until the infected person develops coughing fits, which are then followed by the periods of apparent wellness before the next fits occur.
Vomiting, breathlessness, a change in facial color, and/or a whooping sound may follow the coughing fits.
For more information, call 725-3288 to contact Gail VanBockern, RN or Jan Carrasco, RN at the Grand County Public Health Nursing Service.
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