PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local middle school is putting extra precautions in place after a student was diagnosed with and treated for whooping cough.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a contagious respiratory disease that can severely impact people who are not vaccinated.
In a letter to Jefferson Elementary and Middle School parents, they say one student has been diagnosed with whooping cough, which is a highly contagious infection. Out of an abundance of caution, the school says additional cleaning is taking place over the weekend.
The information was also sent to Jefferson Elementary School parents as the two schools share the same building in the Mt. Lebanon School District.
The principal of Jefferson Middle School says the best way for parents to protect their children is through vaccination.
“So as long as people are vaccinated there’s minimal danger to the school population. The biggest risk we see are people with asthma [and] COPD, anyone over the age of 65 and infants less than six months,” Dr. Matthew Poremba at Allegheny General Hospital said.
The state Department of Health says symptoms of whooping cough include a runny nose and violent bursts of coughing that sometimes cause vomiting.
“We will continue to monitor this issue very closely and communicate additional information if necessary,” the letter says.
Chris Kypriotis has children who attend the school. He received a letter warning about the whooping cough case at the school.
“You’re worried about the kid who did develop the symptoms, but as long as my kids are vaccinated I don’t think it has a chance of spreading readily,” Krpriotis said.
However, Dr. Poremba said children can still contract the disease despite being vaccinated, but he compares the symptoms to a cold or strep throat.
“Again, this doesn’t mean they’re going to get whooping cough, it means they’re going to develop complications should they get it,” Poremba said.
One of the most common complications can be bacterial pneumonia. The disease incubates seven to 10 days and can be treated with antibiotics. Doctors say symptoms should be treated like the flu.
“Cover your mouth, wash your hands and the spread can be contained,” Poremba said. “Only close contacts associated with this child need to be prophylactically treated mainly household contacts.”
Another local school in Fayette County is also dealing with whooping cough after a student was diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease.
Anyone with questions is asked to call the Allegheny County Health Department or a primary care physician.