Wapato Public Schools has learned that two people within the Wapato School Community have been diagnosed with Pertussis, also known as whooping cough. The School District has been consulting with the Yakima County Health District regarding this matter. The District has also sent letters home with all students regarding this situation as way to inform our families. If you have questions about Pertussis please take time to review the information below. This matter serves a reminder to make sure all of your school aged children have up-to-date immunizations.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) is a contagious disease affecting both children and adults. Symptoms usually begin between 7 to 21 days from exposure with cold-like symptoms of sneezing and a runny nose followed by a persistent cough. As the cough progresses, it may occur in explosive bursts or fits which can be followed by gagging or vomiting, and may end with a high pitched whoop. These coughing fits can make it hard to eat, drink or breathe. Between coughing episodes, children and adults may appear well. There is usually little or no fever with this illness. Coughing attacks can continue for 6 to 8 weeks or longer.
How It Is Spread
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) is spread by direct contact with respiratory secretions (from nose and throat) or by handling articles directly contaminated by those secretions. It could take up to three weeks from the time of exposure to Whooping Cough (Pertussis) before symptoms may develop.
Following proper respiratory hygiene can help prevent the spread of many germs, including Whooping Cough (Pertussis). It is very important to:
- Cover your mouth and nose when you are coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Cough or
- sneeze into your elbow to prevent contaminating your hands but if this is not an option, cough or
- sneeze into a tissue and then throw the tissue away.
- Clean your hands often with warm water and soap for 15 to 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand cleaners.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Avoid close contact with persons who are sick.
Whooping Cough Immunizations (Shots)
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Vaccine (DTaP/DTP) is given to children up to the 7th birthday. It is important that young children receive these shots starting at 2 months of age because they are at the greatest risk of developing severe symptoms and complications from the illness. Children and adults sometimes catch Whooping Cough (Pertussis) even if they have had all their immunizations (DTP or DTaP) against this disease. In 2005, new Pertussis containing vaccines [Tdap] were licensed for persons aged 10 years to 64 years of age. The vaccine has now been recommended for all adults of any age and children. They only need to have a one-time dose of Tdap.
What to Do
Children and adults who develop or have persistent coughs should see their family doctor or regular source of medical care. Take this letter with you at the time of the visit and keep from returning to school until treated or tested for pertussis with negative results.