2 ESD career tech students diagnosed with whooping cough.

December 8, 2014

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

VICTORY TWP. — Two students who attend the West Shore Educational Service District’s afternoon classes on the campus of West Shore Community College have been diagnosed with pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

Principal Lynda Matson said the students attend Onekama High School. One is in the ESD’s Career Technical Education culinary arts program and the other is in the CTE mechatronics program.

Matson said she was notified Thursday by District Health Department No. 10.

A memo sent out to the WSCC staff advised about precautions individuals can take. Matson said she also spoke to students.

“The infectious disease control nurse did tell us to operate as normal,” Matson said, adding that those at the highest risk are infants, pregnant women and the elderly.

The following information was included in the WSCC memo:

“Pertussis can be a very serious illness, especially in the very young who haven’t had the opportunity to be completely protected through immunization. The disease is caused by bacteria that are spread through sneezing and coughing.  The time between exposure to the bacteria and disease symptoms is usually between 7 – 10 days, but in rare cases it can take up to 3 weeks.

“In the early stage of illness, pertussis can resemble a common cold. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, mild dry cough and low-grade fever. The disease is most contagious at this time.  After about 1 to 2 weeks, more serious “coughing spells” develop that can last for more than a minute and result in difficulty breathing. At the end of a coughing spell, the individual may make a high pitched “whooping” sound as they try to catch their breath. Sometimes the coughing will cause vomiting.  Coughing in this latter stage of pertussis tends to be worse at night. Between spells, the individual usually feels well.

“Fortunately, vaccinations against pertussis have made it a rare disease.  The majority of children have been protected against it through their routine childhood immunizations. However, protection from the vaccine tends to fade over time and individuals over 10 years old should receive a booster vaccine if they haven’t already had one.  Pertussis can also be treated or even prevented with antibiotics if detected early or before the disease has started.”

The memo gave this advice to staff:

1)      Observe staff and students for any sign or symptoms (sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever, cough) consistent with pertussis.

2)      Exclude staff or students who exhibit persistent cough (> 7 days), a “whoop”, or coughing spells.

3)      Refer excluded staff or students to their personal physician for testing and possible treatment.

4)      Exclude individuals diagnosed with pertussis for at least 5 days after starting antibiotics, or 3 weeks after onset of symptoms if not being treated with antibiotics.

Anyone with questions about this issue, should contact Arlee Sutton, registered nurse at 231-723-3595.

More information is also available at www.cdc.gov/Features/Pertussis/.

 

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