A student at Escalante Middle School has been diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
Pertussis is a contagious illness that is spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs and another individual breathes in the bacteria, according to a news release from the San Juan Basin Health Department.
Students and staff members with a cough should inform their physician of the possible exposure to pertussis and be examined, the release said.
If a physician suspects pertussis, patients should be tested and receive an antibiotic. Students or staff members diagnosed with pertussis cannot return to school until completing five days of an appropriate antibiotic.
Symptoms of pertussis usually develop seven to 10 days after exposure but can develop from four to 21 days after exposure.
Pertussis begins with a cough that progressively becomes more severe until the person develops coughing fits. In between coughing fits, the individual may look and feel fine.
Vomiting, breathlessness, a change in facial color and a whooping sound may follow the coughing fits.
Pertussis may be severe in infants and young children, resulting in hospitalization, seizures, long-term neurological problems and even death.
Pertussis can occur in immunized individuals, because the immunity gained from vaccination typically wanes by adolescence.
The Health Department recommends that parents review immunization records of all children, adolescents and adults in the household to ensure they are up to date on their DTaP/Tdap shots. DTaP vaccine is administered to children younger than 7 years of age. A single dose is recommended for anyone 11 to 64 years old. The vaccine was licensed in 2005 for use in adolescents and adults.
Spread of the disease can be prevented with frequent hand washing and careful disposal of tissues.
Anyone with questions should call Joe Fowler at 247-5702 ext. 272 or Patsy Ford at 247-5702 ext. 209.