If there are 2 or more confirmed cases of Pertussis, better known as Whooping Cough within a County, The Otsego County Health Department considers it to be an outbreak.
Oneonta High School had the first confirmed case of Pertussis on November 22nd. Since then there have been five more confirmed cases. The last case was confirmed on December 4th. Five Star Urgent Care has been treating patients with the infection, and Physician’s Assistant Jenilee Foster explains why it’s so important to be diagnosed early.
"It’s a highly contagious upper respiratory tract infection, so it’s easy to spread from one person to another. There is a vaccine. The Tdap vaccine that tries to prevent. It’s not 100% preventable, but it actually is a rare illness, so when these rare illnesses come about it only takes a few to make a big potential problem."
Oneonta High School Principal Thomas Brindley immediately notified parents about the outbreak and now the Health Department is urging school staff to keep a close eye on the students.
"They basically ask our health officials here to be on heightened awareness for symptoms related to Pertussis, and we err on the side of caution in a situation like this, so anything that’s questionable we reach out to the parents."
There are still three students waiting on test results that are showing no symptoms of Pertussis, but Jenilee Foster says sometimes those symptoms can be suttle.
"You can have just a runny nose and like a low-grade fever and just not feel well for one to two weeks, then all of the sudden you can develop this really harsh cough, and then you can get these high pitched, almost like a high pitched cough or breath that you get that’s almost like a whoop. And these patients can get so bad as far as coughing that they could start throwing up or have apnatic episodes. That’s where they stop breathing completely."
If your child does have a confirmed case of Whooping Cough, doctors recommend everyone within that household be treated with an antibiotic.