Case of whooping cough reported at Lake Zurich High School

By Katie Smith
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 8/29/2017 8:06 PM

One case of whooping cough has been reported at Lake Zurich High School, according to a letter sent home to parents Tuesday.

The Lake County Department of Health on Tuesday advised parents of Lake Zurich High School students to be on the lookout for cold-like symptoms commonly associated with the early stages of pertussis, or whooping cough, for the next three weeks.

Lake Zurich High School Principal Robert Vossel forwarded the letter to parents and staff, recommending they contact the Department of Health with any questions.

Whooping cough is caused by bacteria in the mouth, nose and throat, and is spread through the air by coughing, according to the Department of Health. Cold-like symptoms including sneezing and a runny nose, followed by a gradually worsening cough can appear five to 21 days after infection. In some cases, a cough develops without any accompanying symptoms, the letter stated.

People with whooping cough are most contagious during the early, cold-like stage and the first two weeks after they begin to cough, according to the Department of Health. The cough can last four weeks or longer, and usually develops into a "coughing fit" that can cause gagging or vomiting. In very young children, coughing can cause a whooping sound as the infected person tries to catch their breath.

Symptoms in adults, teens and vaccinated children are often more subtle and can be confused with bronchitis or asthma, the letter stated.

In Illinois, the "DTaP" pertussis vaccine is given until a child is 7 years old. The pertussis booster "Tdap" is available for adults and children 10 years and older. As of September 2011, children entering sixth grade are required to receive the new "Tdap" vaccine.

The Department of Health urged parents with a child younger than 7 years old, particularly babies younger than one, who have not been completely vaccinated for whooping cough, to talk to their doctor about getting vaccinated. Children should also get a DTaP booster as soon as they turn 4 years old, according to the health department.

Babies younger than one year old and unvaccinated small children are more likely to have severe illness from pertussis. When possible, babies should be kept away from people with a cough, and any baby with a coughing illness should be seen by their doctor as soon as possible, according to the health department.

Parents who notice their child showing cold symptoms followed by a cough should take their child to the doctor and tell their physician whooping cough has been reported in the child's school. Any possible pertussis infections should be reported to the school's nurse or administration.

Anyone with a suspected case of whooping cough should stay home during the five days of the antibiotic treatment, or until test results are final. Early antibiotics can minimize severe symptoms and prevent further infection.

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