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Pertussis (Whooping Cough) at Churchill

November 25, 2015

Dear Churchill Families,

Cases of pertussis (whooping cough) continue to occur in our school community, with 3 confirmed cases this year. The Lane County Health Department is aware of this and recommends:

  • If your family member has symptoms of pertussis—as described below—please keep them home from school and consult with their health care provider. Let the provider know your family member may have been exposed to pertussis. Please notify the school.
  • Review your family’s immunization records. All students should have had a TDAP booster shot in middle school. This would be an excellent time to get any vaccines your you or your family members may have missed.

WHAT IS PERTUSSIS (whooping cough)?

Pertussis is a contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria.

  • It begins with a runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and mild cough. The cough gradually becomes more severe.
  • After a week or two, the second stage of the illness begins, characterized by coughing spasms ending with a gasp or whoop as the patient tries to get air. Children have a particularly hard time catching their breath; adults may not whoop at all.
  • Sometimes the fits of coughing results in vomiting or broken ribs. This stage of the illness may last for up to 10 weeks.
  • Pertussis is particularly dangerous—even fatal—for infants who are too young to be fully immunized. It’s extremely important that everyone around infants get immunized to prevent the spread of whooping cough to vulnerable babies, even adults.

SUMMARY:

  • This is NOT a medical emergency
  • It is very important for you and your family to be current on vaccinations, including pertussis. TDAP booster shots are available at local pharmacies.
  • If a family member has symptoms, keep them home, consult their health provider. If medical care is a problem call My School’s Health Center at North Eugene 541-790-4445
  • This is a good time to teach your family to cover coughs and sneezes with their sleeves, not their hands. It is also a great time to practice 15 second hand washing.

For more information on obtaining a pertussis vaccination call your health care provider or SAFENET (1-800-723-3638). For more information on pertussis in Oregon, visit healthoregon.org/imm. Also the CDC website, www.cdc.gov is very reliable. Search for pertussis. Lane County Public Health can be reached at 541-682-4041. The Churchill school nurse, Kim Roellig, can be reached at 541 790-5237.

Best wishes for health,

Kim Roellig, RN, School Nurse

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