8/20/14 3:10 p.m.
Liberty-Benton Elementary School sent a letter home Tuesday with its students after one student was recently diagnosed with pertussis, better known as whooping cough.
It is recommended to be vaccinated for pertussis at two, four, six and fifteen months of age, along with boosters before kindergarten and seventh grade. But by the time we reach adulthood, the vaccine is worn off.
Audio: Frances Meeks
Frances Meeks, director of nursing at the Hancock County Health Department, said pertussis in adults is less severe and may seem more like a bad cough or bronchitis. Despite this, the disease can still be spread to children who are unvaccinated or in the process of receiving all their immunizations.
Meeks said Ohio is third in the nation for number of pertussis cases, and the best way to prevent it is vaccainations. Last year there were six reported cases in Hancock County, but so far this is the first case for 2014.
Symptoms vary by age, but are magnified in babies because of their smaller airways. With adults, it may appear more as a bad cough or bronchitis. Pertussis in a child can start as a mild upper respitory infection and appear as a cold with a runny nose and low grade fever, but the cough becomes more severe. Coughing episodes which sound like crowing or high-pitched “whoops.”
In order to contract the diease, it usually requires two to three hours of face time with the infected person, and coming in contact with any fluids from the nose or throat. Once contracted, quarantine is advised and antibiotics are administered. The person is no longer contagious after approximately five days or continuous antibiotics, but the symptoms can last for up to a month.
As for the student at Liberty-Benton, according to Superintendent Jim Kanable the student is not in classes, and was only exposed to other students at the school’s open house last week. Kanable said the school was notified of the diagnosis Monday after school and sent information home with students immediately on Tuesday.
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