Whooping Cough Outbreak

November 17, 2008 1:56:34 PM PST
At least sixteen students in West Middlesex Area Schools in Western Pennsylvania have come down with pertussis, better known as whooping cough. It started with one case back in September, but the highly contagious disease quickly spread into what the Pennsylvania State Department of Health is now calling an outbreak.

The health department has worked with the school since the first case to educate students, teachers and parents about the signs and symptoms.

West Middlesex Schools Superintendent Alan Baldarelli said the cases were confined to the elementary school, which has some parents wondering why the building wasn't shut down. It turns out the State Department of Health says that's exactly what not to do.

The pertussis vaccine is one of the immunizations given to all babies, but until a few years ago, there was no booster shot for kids over seven or for adults.

Free vaccines are being offered to everyone in the district. Students with whooping cough who get treatment can come back to school in a week. Without antibiotics, they're asked to stay away for twenty-one days.

West Middlesex Schools and the Health Department are offering free whooping cough vaccines at the schools on Wednesday November 19th, and again Monday the 24th.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends kids ages 11 and older get a booster shot for pertussis. For more information on the pertussis vaccine, visit:www.cdc.gov


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