Middle school advises parents about student diagnosed with whooping cough

Email sent to parents who have students at Wellington Middle School:

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Alert- Wellington Middle School

A student attending Wellington Middle School has been diagnosed with pertussis (also known as whooping cough) and may have been infectious and able to pass the infection on to other individuals. The ill student is being treated with antibiotics to stop further spread of the infection and will remain out of school until 5 days of antibiotic treatment have been completed.

The state of Colorado and Larimer County has been experiencing an outbreak of Pertussis cases since 2012. Pertussis is a bacterial illness involving the respiratory tract that begins with cold-like symptoms and progresses to a severe cough. Some cases can have severe coughing spells which may cause vomiting, breathlessness, a change in facial color, and a whooping sound that follows the coughing fits. (Whooping is less common after infancy.) The illness can last from six to ten weeks. Disease symptoms vary with age and vaccination status, with milder illness generally seen among fully vaccinated persons.

Pertussis is spread through sneezing and coughing and contact with droplets from the respiratory tract of the person who is infected. It usually takes from 7-10 days for symptoms to appear after exposure to pertussis, but symptoms could appear from 4 to 21 days after exposure.

Our primary goal is to prevent pertussis in infants and very young children and anyone with a medical condition that would be complicated because of pertussis. Pertussis can be particularly severe in infants under 12 months of age and in persons with any chronic respiratory disease such as asthma.

Children should be routinely immunized against pertussis with a series of three shots as infants, a booster dose at 15 to 18 months, before school entry at four to six years of age and prior to entering Middle School at age 11. A vaccine (Tdap) for adolescents and adults is available through health care providers or your local health department. The vaccine provides protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis and is highly recommended for all health care personnel and for those who have close contact with infants.

What to Do
· If you, your child or other individuals you provide care for have a respiratory infection with a cough now or develops pertussis-like symptoms, do not expose others to the cough. Consult with your health care provider and inform him/her that there may have been an exposure to pertussis so that appropriate testing and treatment can be considered. This is especially true if you have children less than 1 year of age living or being cared for in your household.

· Consult with your health care provider or your local health department to ensure immunizations (DTaP/Tdap) of all members of your household are up to date. Vaccine is available from most private physicians or your County Health Department.

· Household members and those with close face-to-face contact with a known pertussis case can be treated preventively with appropriate antibiotics to stop further spread of the infection. Antibiotics can prevent the development of the illness or make it less severe.

· Pertussis cases should stay home from daycare, school, or work until they have taken a prescribed antibiotic for 5 days.

If you have questions about Pertussis, call your health care provider or the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment at 970-498-6700.

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has vaccine clinic appointments at the Fort Collins office (1525 Blue Spruce; phone 970-498-6700), the Loveland office (205 East 6th Street; phone: 970-679-4580) and at the Estes Park office (1601 Brodie Avenue; phone: 970-577-2050). Please call the clinic to inquire about clinic appointments and vaccination options or check the Larimer County Health Department’s web site for current immunization information:
http://www.larimer.org/health/chs/immunizations.asp

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