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A case of pertussis (whooping cough) confirmed at BCHS

Filed in Archive by on May 1, 2017

The following information is being provided to parents at Bethlehem Central High School following two lab confirmed cases of pertussis in the Bethlehem Central School District by the Albany County Department of Health.  The first case was at Bethlehem Central Middle School. A notification of the case at BCMS was sent to all district parents on April 24, 2017.

May 1, 2017

Parent/Guardian:

The Albany County Department of Health has informed us that an individual in our school community has been diagnosed with pertussis (whooping cough). This individual has sought and received appropriate medical care. Although the likelihood of your child having been exposed to pertussis through interaction at school is low, this letter is being sent to inform you about the signs and symptoms of pertussis. 

Pertussis is a contagious disease that is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets.  People with pertussis can spread the disease when coughing or sneezing while in close contact to others. Usually, pertussis begins with cold-like symptoms which can include a low-grade fever and a mild cough. After 1-2 weeks the cough becomes worse and people may experience a series of coughing fits that may be followed by vomiting, difficulty catching their breath (a breath in may have a “whooping” sound), and fatigue. The cough is often worse at night and it may not be relieved with cough medications. These coughing fits can last for many weeks. The illness may be milder and the characteristic whoop absent in those who were previously vaccinated. Persons at highest risk for severe complications and/or death from pertussis include infants, immunocompromised individuals, and patients with moderate to severe asthma.  

If your child develops a persistent cough (present for a week or more), have him or her evaluated by your healthcare provider. The provider should be informed that pertussis has been diagnosed in an individual that your child may have had contact with at school. 

If the healthcare provider determines that your child has pertussis, treatment with antibiotics is recommended to help your child get well faster and to lower the risk of spreading the disease to others. Your child cannot return to school/work/extracurricular activities until 5 days of antibiotic treatment has been completed or the health department otherwise gives approval.

Please be aware that pertussis can occur in persons who have received childhood vaccinations for this disease because protection decreases over time. This is a good time make sure you, your child(ren), and other members of your household are up-to-date with immunizations. Your healthcare provider can help determine whether you should receive this vaccine.

More information and a fact sheet about pertussis is available here from the New York State Department of Health.

If you have any questions or concerns, you may contact your child’s healthcare provider, the school nurse, or the Albany County Department of Health at (518) 447-4640. 

Sincerely,

Mike Klugman
Interim Principal