Whooping Cough Confirmed in Employee of SHUSD

Southern Humboldt Unified School District (SHUSD) has sent a letter and a call out to parents today letting them know that one of their employees has a confirmed case of whooping cough. The letter states,

Today we were informed that we have a confirmed case of Pertussis, better known as Whooping cough in an employee.  Please if you or your student shows any signs of whooping cough please go to the doctor. Do not send your student to school if you suspect them having whooping cough.  Redway & Garberville clinics have the vaccine in stock in case anyone you know needs a booster.

If you have any questions please contact your school site, thank you.

According to Bambi Henderson, an employee of the District, “This afternoon the employee called and let us know.”  A message was recorded and sent via an All Call to the parents. 

Whooping cough or Pertussis is a upper respiratory infection caused by bacteria. Bouts of coughing can be followed by a “whooping” intake of air. Sometimes the coughing is so severe it can lead to vomiting. Sometimes cases can last as long as 10 weeks.

The bacteria is spread from contact with the mucus of the infected person. It can take up to three weeks after exposure for a person to begin to show symptoms.  According to a information sheet the district sent out, to limit the spread of pertussis, it is recommended that people check with their doctor to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date. 

Below is the information provided by the District:

Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

WHAT IS IT? Whooping cough (pertussis) is a serious respiratory infection caused by bacteria. Symptoms begin with a runny nose and then progress to persistent coughing. Fits of coughing may be followed by a whooping gasp to breathe in air. Coughing fits may also lead to vomiting. The illness can last for 6 to 10 weeks, or longer.

Pertussis is most severe in infants, especially under 6 months of age. It can cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and respiratory failure. Hospitalization is usually necessary, and the disease can be fatal. Older children and adults can develop milder symptoms and can spread the disease to infants.

HOW IS IT SPREAD?  Pertussis is spread by contact with mucus from the nose or saliva. It is spread by coughing and sneezing; kissing on the lips; and sharing food, eating utensils and mouthed toys. It is also spread by touching hands to nose and mouth, reusing tissues, and forgetting to wash hands after blowing the nose. It spreads most easily in crowded, poorly ventilated rooms

WHEN IT IS CONTAGIOUS?  Pertussis is most contagious during the early symptoms of the runny nose, but can remain contagious for up to 3 weeks. Symptomatic individuals who have completed their full course of antibiotic treatment are considered non-infectious and may return to school. After exposure to pertussis, it can take 1 to 3 weeks to develop the illness.

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED AND TREATED?  Pertussis is diagnosed by the typical symptoms and cultures of swabs taken from the nose and throat.  Blood tests and other tests may also be done. Pertussis is treated with antibiotic medications.  For infants with severe illness, hospitalization and close monitoring of breathing are necessary.  Oxygen, special feeding and other treatments may be needed.

If a person has been recently exposed to pertussis, antibiotic medication and immunization boosters can help prevent the illness.

SHOULD THE CHILD STAY HOME? Symptomatic individuals who have completed their full course of antibiotic treatment are considered non-infectious and may return to school and when he/she feels well enough to participate.

HOW CAN WE LIMIT THE SPREAD?Immunize all infants and children years against pertussis. The exception would be children with severe and/or progressive neurological problems.Make sure that you have been vaccinated against pertussis.  Booster doses are needed throughout life because protection after pertussis vaccine or disease wears off over time.

Young children need five doses of DTaP (PDF) by kindergarten (ages 4-6).Students in 7th grade in California need to have met the requirement for a Tdap (PDF) booster – see http://shotsforschool.org

Pregnant women are recommended to receive a Tdap booster during their third trimester of each pregnancy, even if they got it before pregnancy.

Adults are also recommended to receive a Tdap booster, especially if they are in contact with infants or are health care workers, but most adults have not yet received Tdap.

Pertussis vaccination recommendations of the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) are http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip- recs/index.html
Report the illness to the local health department. They will help determine who is infected, who needs treatment, and other measures to stop the spread.

Cough and sneeze into your elbow and away from people.  If you cough or sneeze into your hand or a tissue, wash your hands afterwards. Wipe runny noses with a clean tissue, throw the tissue away, and then wash your hands. Don’t share food, pacifiers or bottles. Wash eating utensils and drinking cups well between uses. Clean and disinfect mouthed toys and dining tables after each use.  Clean and disinfect water fountains, telephone receivers and other frequently handled items daily. Discourage nose picking.  Try to limit touching the eyes, nose and mouth. Don’t kiss children on the mouth—hug them and kiss them on the forehead instead. Maximize outdoor play and indoor ventilation. Contact your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms or for further information regarding immunizations.


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