Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Information

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Information

Dear LHS Families,

A few cases of pertussis, also called “whooping cough” have been reported in the LHS student community recently. With pertussis, it is always possible there will be additional cases in our school and in the community. The health department reports for every case that is laboratory diagnosed, reported and treated, there are likely many that are not.

The cases have occurred in individuals who have been immunized (vaccinated)​. Immunization is effective at preventing serious illness from pertussis. Immunized individuals who have been exposed to pertussis may develop the disease when their immunity wanes. They often have a mild version of the illness. Unless infected individuals are properly diagnosed and treated, they can transmit the disease for three weeks.

We urge you to contact your health care provider if your child has cold symptoms that include a cough and let them know that pertussis is present in the school community. ​Communicating with a health care provider is important even for those who are up to date with immunizations for pertussis.

If your health care provider suspects pertussis, it is important to keep your child at home until lab results are back.​ Individuals who are diagnosed and treated for pertussis are mandated by the Health Department to stay home from school for five days while undergoing antibiotic treatment, or until they receive a negative test result. We encourage parents/guardians of children who are immunocompromised or who have serious or chronic illnesses to contact their health care providers to discuss the recent occurrence of pertussis in the community. Your healthcare provider can provide guidance and recommendations about your child's unique health issues.

About Pertussis

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly-contagious respiratory disease. Cases have increased nationally as well as in our community over recent years. ​Pertussis can be a very serious disease especially in infants. Students, parents, and staff who are immunocompromised, unvaccinated, or have serious health issues are also at risk for more serious disease.​ Bacteria are spread by inhaling infected droplets of a coughing or sneezing person or by direct contact with discharges from a running nose. Household members and close contacts that have been exposed to the infected individual are at increased risk. Although it is far less likely to contract pertussis through contact with inanimate objects and surfaces, it is recommended to provide careful attention to cleaning surfaces with a product effective against pertussis and other communicable diseases. Our custodial department will continue to do so in school.

Pertussis is treated with antibiotics.  However, ​the single most important way to prevent serious or catastrophic illness from pertussis is by vaccination.​ Listed below are recommendations regarding pertussis vaccine:

  • If your child is under the age of 7 years and has not received the full recommended vaccination series (​DTaP​ at 2, 4 and 6 months, first booster at 15 -18 months and second booster at 4 - 6 years), please contact your pediatrician and complete the vaccination schedule.  
  • Children ages 7 -10 who have not received the full recommended vaccination series should receive a dose of ​Tdap​ at the earliest opportunity.  
  • Persons between the ages of 11 and 64 who have not received a previous dose of Tdap​ vaccine should receive a single dose. No minimum interval since a previous dose of Td needs to be observed.  
  • Persons aged 65 and older may also receive a single dose of ​Tdap​ vaccine, as directed by their primary care physician.

Finally, infants under one year are most likely to experience severe illness if they develop pertussis. Infants should be kept away from people with a cough. ​Infants with any coughing illness should be promptly evaluated by their pediatrician.

If you have any questions, please contact the summer school nurse in the LHS Nurse’s office at 847-327-7016.

Thank you.