Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Information

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Information
Posted on 03/08/2017
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Dear Parent or Guardian:

Your child may have been exposed to pertussis (whooping cough).  Since February 2017, the Ulster County Department of Health has seen an increased number of pertussis cases in Ulster County.  Pertussis is an infection that affects the airways and is easily spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing.  Its severe cough can last for weeks or months, sometimes leading to coughing fits and/or vomiting.  Anyone can get pertussis, but it can be very dangerous for infants and people with weakened immune systems.  Family members with pertussis, especially mothers, can spread pertussis to newborns.

Recommendations:

  1.  If your child has a cough:
    • Keep your child home from school and activities, such as sports or play groups.  See items 4 and 5 about when your child can return to these activities.
    • Make an appointment with your child’s doctor as soon as possible and tell the doctor that your child may have been exposed to pertussis.
  2. If your child has been told by a doctor that they have a weakened Immune system, ask your child’s doctor to prescribe antibiotics to your child as soon as possible to prevent pertussis.  Antibiotics should be given to a child with a weakened immune system if they may have been exposed to pertussis, even if he or she is not coughing.
  3. If your child lives with any of the following people and may have been exposed to pertussis, ask your child’s doctor to prescribe antibiotics as soon as possible to your child, even if he or she is not coughing.
    • A woman who is pregnant,
    • An infant younger than 12 months old, or
    • Anyone with a weakened immune system.
  4. If your child has been diagnosed with pertussis by his or her doctor:

    Tell the school that your child has been diagnosed with pertussis.

    • School officials may request that you keep your child home from school and activities, such as sports or play groups, until your child has been on antibiotics for five days to treat pertussis.
    • Ask your child’s doctor for a note that states your child has pertussis. 
  5. If your child’s doctor says your child does NOT have pertussis:
  • Ask for a note from the doctor telling the school that your child’s cough is NOT pertussis and that your child can return to school and other activities at any time.

Please make sure your family’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Protection against pertussis from the childhood vaccine, DTaP, decreases over time.  Older children and adults, including pregnant women, should get a pertussis booster shot called “Tdap” to protect themselves and infants near or around them.  If you need the Tdap vaccine, contact your doctor or call Ulster County Health Department to find a vaccine provider near you.

Sincerely,

Rosario Agostaro
Superintendent of Schools

 

RA/db