We have been informed that we have a few students in PSD who are being treated for pertussis, also known as whooping cough. If the health department determined that your student has been exposed, you would have been notified by letter.
The germs that cause pertussis are spread by respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks. Pertussis first starts like a cold with a runny nose followed by a cough. The cough can occur in fits or can lead to vomiting. Between coughing spells, the person often appears to be well. This coughing stage may last for many weeks. Adults, teens, and vaccinated children often have milder symptoms that look like bronchitis or asthma. Fever is absent or low-grade. If your child develops signs of pertussis, please take your child to your health care provider and request testing for pertussis.Pertussis is most serious for infants, especially those under 6 months of age. The coughing spells may be so bad that it is hard for babies to eat, drink or breath and some babies may die from pertussis.
There is a vaccine to prevent pertussis. Five doses of vaccine, given in a series starting at 2 months of age, are needed to protect a child from pertussis. A dose of DTaP is recommended at each of the following ages:
2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12-18 months, 4-6 years
The vaccine works for most children, but protection wears off after a number of years. To protect newborns from pertussis, pregnant women should receive a Tdap immunization with every pregnancy (between 27 and 36 weeks). The Tdap immunization is also recommended for all children and adults 10 years of age and older. This vaccine is especially important if there is a new baby at home now or coming soon, and for everyone who may come in contact with a baby.
For more information about pertussis, see this information from Tacoma Pierce County Health Department.