Dear LHS Families,
Pertussis, also called “whooping cough,” has been reported in our school community recently. In collaboration with the Lake County Health Department, we want to be proactive to increase awareness of signs and symptoms of pertussis. With pertussis, it is always possible there will be additional cases in the community and our school. The health department reports for every case that is laboratory diagnosed, reported, and treated, there are likely many that are not.
The known 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 healthcare 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 and Illinois state law 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.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly-contagious respiratory disease. Cases have increased nationally as well as in our area 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.
As a community, we need your assistance by following the health department’s instructions, and as with any cough or illness, please remember to wash your hands often, and use your elbow to cover your cough.
If you have any questions, please contact the LHS Nurse’s office at 847-327-7016.