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Saucon Valley Student Has Whooping Cough, District Says

A Saucon Valley High School student has a confirmed case of whooping cough, the district announced Thursday.

superintendent Sandra Fellin announced Thursday afternoon that a student has a confirmed case of whooping cough.

In an emailed news alert, Fellin said the diagnosis was confirmed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Recently, several students have had "coughs that seemed to profile as whooping cough," she added.

Fellin emphasized that the student and the student's family are on antibiotic treatment and said "the course of antibiotics has been issued long enough to not have this person/family be contagious to anyone else at this time."

"We are notifying (parents) since your (children) may have been in contact with this person in school or in the community," she stated.

Possible signs or symptoms of whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis, are:

  • A cold and cough becomes worse over a period of 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Coughing is followed by a "whooping noise," although this may not occur in infants, older children and adults.
  • A cough worsens at night and medications do not help to alleviate it.
  • Long coughs are followed by vomiting, turning blue or difficulty catching one's breath.

Whooping cough is highly contagious and is transmitted through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Reported incidences of the illness have been on the rise throughout the country, and Fellin offered the following information from the PA Department of Health to help parents stay informed, as well as recognize possible symptoms.

  • If a child is coughing, promptly contact his or her doctor. Explain that your child may have been exposed to a case of pertussis and needs to be evaluated. 
  • If your doctor suspects pertussis, an antibiotic may be given to help him or her get well faster and lower the chance of spreading the disease. 
  • Your child will be able to return to school after completing the first 5 days of medication. A doctor's note is required to clear the student to return to school. It is important that even though your child can return to school, that they complete all medications. 
  • If your child is diagnosed, all household members and close contacts should contact their family physician for possible treatment regardless of age or vaccination status. 
  • In 2005, a combination vaccine was approved for use in adolescents and adults called Tdap. Tdap is recommended for use in all 11-12 year olds and 15-year-olds at high school entry, and with adults under age 65.
  • Tdap should be given every 10 years to maintain immunity. 
  • Making sure children have their shots is the best way to prevent pertussis. The DTaP vaccine is only given to children under the age of 7 years. Children should receive one dose of DTaP at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and between 15 and 18 months of age.
  • In addition, one dose is needed before starting school. If you think your child has not been properly immunized contact your doctor.

Further information about whooping cough is available by calling the Pennsylvania Department of Health at 1-877-PA-HEALTH and at the following websites:

Fellin said parents should also contact their doctors if they have questions, and said school nurses are available for consultation as well.

Mary Anne Looby January 26, 2012 at 10:45 PM
This is a very preventible disease. Everyone should have their infants vaccinated. The guidelines listed above should be followed later in life.

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