We continue to have probable and confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) identified at Hunterdon Central. As the school year comes to a close, we would like to remind parents that it is wise to continue to monitor your children for symptoms throughout the summer.
Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air, by a cough or a sneeze. Pertussis begins with cold symptoms and a cough, which become much worse over 1-2 weeks. Symptoms usually include a long series of coughing fits, followed by a whooping noise. However, older children, adults and very young infants may not develop the whoop. People with pertussis may have a series of severe coughing fits followed immediately by vomiting, turning blue or difficulty catching breath. The cough is often worse at night, and cough medicines usually do not help alleviate the cough. There is generally only a slight fever.
If your child has been around someone with pertussis, he/she might become sick with the disease. This is especially true if your child is not up-to-date with pertussis vaccine shots. Even if your child’s shots are up-to-date, it is still possible to get pertussis.
If your child has been in contact with someone with pertussis, antibiotics prescribed by your doctor may prevent your child from becoming ill. If your child is already sick, giving antibiotics early can help your child get well faster and lower the chances of spreading the disease to others.
Please consider the following New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services recommendations:
- If your child comes down with cold symptoms that include a cough, talk to your child’s doctor immediately and tell the doctor that pertussis has been identified at Hunterdon Central. Taking antibiotics early can help your child get well faster, and can lower the chances of spreading pertussis to others.
- Even if your child’s pertussis vaccines are up to date, it is still possible to get pertussis, so please contact your doctor if your child experiences these symptoms.
- Do not send your child to school if he/she has any signs or symptoms of pertussis.
- Any persons having close contact with a pertussis case should ask their doctor about taking antibiotics, to prevent them from getting pertussis.
- A pertussis vaccine booster is now available for persons 10 years and older. If you have children who have not been completely immunized against pertussis, please talk to your doctor about the benefits of vaccination.
- Infants are most likely to have severe symptoms with pertussis. When possible, young infants should be kept away from people with a cough. Infants with a coughing illness should be seen promptly by their doctor.
We will continue to monitor the situation at Hunterdon Central; if additional actions to control the spread of pertussis among pupils become necessary, we will notify parents.
If you have general concerns or questions about pertussis, you can find more information on the Centers for Disease Control Website. You can also call our local health department at 908-806-4560.
If you have specific concerns or questions about your child’s health, please contact your health care provider.