A student at Bryant Middle School has been diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough. As a result we are working closely with Wayne County Health Department in response and we wish to provide you with some important precautionary information.
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 a type of bacteria that can be spread through sneezing and coughing. The time between exposure to the bacteria and disease symptoms is usually between 7 – 10 days but it rare cases it can take as long as 3 weeks.
In the early stage pertussis can resemble a cold and 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, the cough evolves into more serious “coughing spells” that can last for more than a minute and result in a lack of oxygen. At the end of a spell, the child may make a high pitched “whooping” sound as they try to catch their breath. This is how the disease got its name. Sometimes the coughing attacks will cause vomiting. Coughing in the latter stage of pertussis tends to be worse at night. Between coughing attacks, the child 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 (“shots”). However protection from the vaccine tends to fade over time. If your child is older than 10, they may need to receive a booster vaccine.
Please check your child’s immunization records. All children should receive 5 doses of a Pertussis containing vaccine (DTaP) beginning with the first dose at 2 months of age and finishing with the fifth dose just prior to entering school (age 4-6 years). A booster dose of another pertussis containing vaccine (Tdap) is recommended after the age of 10 due to waning immunity and is available for older children and adults.
If your child is not fully protected against pertussis please contact your doctor to have them immunized. Children who haven’t completed a full 5-dose course of pertussis vaccinations can be excluded from school if the disease is known to be present. Please inform the school of any updates in your child’s immunization record so they can be documented and to prevent such exclusions.
Pertussis can also be treated or even prevented with antibiotics if detected early or before the disease has started. If your child has been exposed please contact your health care provider for protective treatment. If your child does develop any of the symptoms described above, keep him or her at home from school and contact your doctor immediately. Please also inform the school of any illness.
If you have any questions about this issue please contact Carrie Conn, RN, school nurse for Dearborn Public Schools, at (313) 827-1650 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is also available at www.cdc.gov/Features/Pertussis/.
Carrie Conn RN
Dearborn Public Schools