The number of students with pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough) now stands at 16, with 11 confirmed cases at Cole Middle School, 4 at Eldredge and 1 at Hanaford. The first case was reported at Cole on March 18.
Pertussis can cause severe coughing spells, which can cause difficulty breathing, vomiting and disturbed sleep, particularly for babies, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. For people who are generally healthy, pertussis behaves like a bad cold with a cough.
One parent whose child became ill with the disease questioned why children who are coughing are not made to wear masks, since the disease is highly contagious. But, according to school officials, the national Centers for Disease Control and the state Dept. of Health have made no recommendations that children who have a cough should wear a mask.
The treatment is usually a five-day course of antibiotics, after which the child may return to school.
“The school nurses have been in constant contact with the Department of Health,” said Supt. Victor Mercurio Friday.
He said he believed all the students who have become ill had been vaccinated against the disease. Children receive the DTap vaccination in a series of shots during their early years; a booster Tdap vaccine is given when children are 11 or 12 years old.
According to the CDC, the incidence of pertussis has been on the increase since the early 1980s.
“At this point we’re waiting and watching,” Mercurio said.
EG News has run two previous stories on the pertussis outbreak: