Community Health Officer reports case of pertussis at the Upper School


Graphic by Sam Ko

Sophie Haber

At least one upper school student has been diagnosed with pertussis, or whooping cough, Community Health Officer Milo Sini said in an email to parents Nov. 8.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease that spreads through coughing and sneezing. Sini said that it can lead to hospitalization, or even death when left untreated.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine usually wears off around the teenage years. Therefore, although many individuals at the school have been vaccinated, Sini recommended that students get a tdap booster, which is required for all students.

Sini said that it is important that members of the community are aware of the early signs and symptoms of the disease, which can occur over a period of five days to three weeks and include runny nose, low-grade fever and a mild, occasional cough. In the later stages, it can lead to paroxysms of many, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound, vomiting and exhaustion after coughing fits.

According to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, not everyone who has whooping cough makes the whooping sound, but the condition can be just as dangerous in patients who do not make the sound.

If students think they might be showing symptoms, Sini said they should seek a physician’s advice immediately. He also said students should notify their doctors that pertussis has been identified at their school.

Sini encouraged students to practice good coughing hygiene by coughing into their elbows and taking antibiotics.

“On our end, we have already contacted the families of those students whom we believe may have been exposed,” Sini said in the email. “We will continue to monitor, be vigilant and communicate further should the need arise.”