March 30, 2015
The following letter is a letter regarding pertussis (whooping cough) from the Kingman County Health Department going out to all high school students today.
Dear Parent or Guardian:
On March 27, 2015 Kingman County Health Dept. was notified of its first Pertussis (whooping cough) case this year. Pertussis is an infection that affects the airways and is easily spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing. The severe cough caused by pertussis can last for weeks or months, leading to coughing fits, sometimes the distinctive “whoop” for which the disease is named, and sometimes vomiting following a coughing fit.
The reason you are receiving this notice is because the person who tested positive for pertussis is a student at Kingman High School. Students deemed in close contact to the person who has pertussis have been contacted by the health department stating specifically that they need to receive prophylactic medication (medication to keep them from getting infected with pertussis). A close contact is defined as someone who has been within 3 feet of the infected person for at least 1 hour.
At this point, we don’t know where this first case of pertussis was contracted, but anyone can get pertussis and it can be very dangerous for infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. Family members with pertussis, especially mothers and other care givers can spread pertussis to newborns.
Please make sure your family’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Protection against pertussis from the childhood vaccine, DTaP, decreases over time. Older children and adults, including pregnant women, should get a pertussis booster shot called “Tdap” to protect themselves and infants near or around them. If you need the Tdap vaccine, contact your doctor or call Kingman County Health Department at 620-532-2221 to find a vaccine provider near you.
1. If your child has a cough:
· Keep your child home from school and activities, such as sports or play groups. See items 4 and 5 about when your child can return to these activities.
· Make an appointment with your child’s doctor as soon as possible and tell the doctor that your child may have been exposed to pertussis.
2. If your child has been told by a doctor that they have a weakened immune system, ask your child’s doctor to prescribe antibiotics to your child as soon as possible to prevent pertussis. Antibiotics should be given to a child with a weakened immune system if they have been exposed to pertussis, even if he or she is not coughing.
3. If your child lives with any of the following people and may have been exposed to pertussis, ask the child’s doctor to prescribe antibiotics as soon as possible to your child, even if he or she is not coughing:
· A woman who is pregnant
· An infant younger than 12 months old
· Anyone with a weakened immune system
4. If your child has been diagnosed with pertussis by his or her doctor:
· Tell the school that your child has been diagnosed with pertussis
· School officials will request that you keep your child home from school and activities, such as sports or play groups, until your child has been on antibiotics for 5 days to treat pertussis
· Ask your child’s doctor for a note that states your child has pertussis.
5. If your child’s doctor says your child does NOT have pertussis:
· As for a note telling the school that your child’s cough is NOT pertussis and that your child can return to school.
If you take your child to a doctor for pertussis vaccination or treatment/testing for pertussis, please show the reverse side of the letter sent home with students to the physician. If you have any questions or concerns, please call your school or Kingman County Health Dept. at 620-532-2221.