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Prevent Whooping Cough

Dear Churchill Families,

Cases of pertussis (whooping cough) continue to occur in our school community, with 6 confirmed cases this year. This is not a medical emergency, but measures should be taken to prevent further spread in our community.

The holiday season is a great time for our students to rest and recharge! It’s also a potential time of disease spread with lots of visiting and travel.

In order to stop pertussis from spreading, I encourage you to take the following precautions:

  • ANY cold-like symptoms could be the beginnings of pertussis, even if your student has had the pertussis vaccine. If your student has cold-like symptoms:
  • Avoid contact with babies (under 1 year), pregnant women, and people who live or work with babies or pregnant women.
  • Contact your doctor or seek medical care through an urgent care clinic and tell them you may have been exposed to pertussis.
  • Avoid travel if sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with sleeves, not hands, and practice 15 second hand washing.

This is also a great time to get yourself and your student up-to-date on their immunizations. Many pharmacies accept both OHP and private insurance and can give vaccinations during their regular business hours on a drop-in basis.

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.

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.

Best wishes for health over the holidays and in 2016!

 

Kim Roellig, RN

School Nurse

(541) 790-5237

roellig_k@4j.lane.edu

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