Please take a few moments to review the information below from Central District Health indicating that there have been documented cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in school age children in our area. As of now, we have not had any Rolling Hills’ students with symptoms nor diagnosis. We are sharing the information provided to us in order to be proactive.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
All the best,
Rolling Hills Public Charter School
(208) 939-5400 ~ (208) 939-5401 (Fax)
From: IDHan@dhw.idaho.gov [mailto:IDHan@dhw.idaho.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 3:30 PM
To: Teri Friend <email@example.com>
Subject: PERTUSSIS ALERT FOR SCHOOL HEALTH STAFF HanUserData:9442.1588.1.5695.0
PERTUSSIS ALERT FOR SCHOOL HEALTH STAFF
HEALTH ALERT NETWORK
HEALTH DISTRICT 4
PERTUSSIS ALERT FOR SCHOOL HEALTH STAFF
Central District Health Department Provides Information and Recommendations to School Administrators and Health Staff
December 05, 2017
Since October 1st, 17 pertussis cases have been reported among Ada County residents with almost 60% of cases occurring among school-aged children between the ages 13-18 years. Some cases are being reported among vaccinated individuals and in many instances these people are exhibiting a milder cough without the classical "whoop".
What are the symptoms of Pertussis? Illness usually begins with cold-like symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, a mild, occasional cough and low-grade fever. Then the cough becomes more severe. Often a person has attacks or spasms of coughing. The coughing may cause a person to vomit, cough up mucous, or lose his/her breath. Coughing may continue for weeks or months. Uncommonly a child may make a crowing sound (whoop) when she/he draws a breath after severely coughing. Teens and adults usually have milder disease.
How soon after exposure do symptoms occur? From 7-21 days, usually 7-10 days.
Can a person get Pertussis even if they have been immunized? Yes. Pertussis vaccines are good but not perfect. The DTaP and Tdap vaccines initially provide high levels of protection but immunity decreases over time. This decreasing immunity means that a person can be at risk of infection.
How long is someone contagious? If untreated, a person is contagious from the time cold-like symptoms or cough begins until three weeks after the attacks of coughing started. If treated with an effective antibiotic (e.g. Azithromycin), a person is no longer contagious after taking the antibiotic for 5 days.
How long should a person with Pertussis stay isolated at home? A person with Pertussis should not be in school while they are contagious. This means that infected persons who are treated may return to day care, work, or school after completing five days of antibiotic. If a person does not receive treatment, they should stay home for three weeks after the attacks of coughing started.
Does someone who has been exposed to Pertussis but has no symptoms need to stay isolated at home? No, but if cold-like symptoms or a cough develop they should be promptly examined and tested by a physician.
What’s the difference between the nasopharyngeal swab and blood test for Pertussis? The nasopharyngeal swab testing looks directly for the Pertussis bacteria. If a person has Pertussis, this test can detect the bacteria from the time of cough onset until 3-4 weeks afterward (the contagious period). Blood testing or serology looks at the body’s immune response to being exposed to the bacteria and will typically be positive 2-8 weeks after cough onset. However, the blood test is not as reliable as the swab and a positive blood test alone does not mean the patient will be counted as a case with the health department.
What can be done to prevent Pertussis? Vaccination is the most effective prevention. Children should receive 5 doses of DTaP by age 6 and a booster of Tdap should be given to preteens at 11-12 years of age.
If there has been a case of Pertussis in a classroom, should a letter be sent to parents? Letters can be a helpful way to alert parents to potential exposure, however they are most effective in elementary settings and when there are low numbers of cases in the community. When higher numbers of cases are being seen in the community, such as now, general announcements about Pertussis on school websites or in newsletters may be a more effective way to get information to parents.
For additional information contact the Office of Communicable Disease Control at 208-327-8625. For immunization questions contact the CDHD Shot Line at 208-321-2229.