Fourteen cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have been confirmed among students in the Easton school district, county health and district officials said.
All but one of the cases have involved children at Pleasant Ridge Elementary School. The remaining child is a middle school student, according to Superintendent Chuck Coblentz.
Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory illness that is spread by coughing and sneezing. It can affect people of all ages but is most serious for infants, according to information from the Leavenworth County Health Department.
The disease causes cold-like symptoms and a severe cough that can last for weeks. Adolescents and adults often have a milder form of the disease, but it still can spread.
The cases the Leavenworth County Health Department has been informed of are mild and being treated through the children's doctors, according to Amy Tollefson, public information officer for the Health Department.
Coblentz said school officials sent out letters to notify parents, and information has been posted on the school district's website. He said the first letter notifying parents was sent out around Sept. 6 after the first case was confirmed. Another letter was sent out last week.
Children who are confirmed to have the disease are not being allowed back into school without a doctor's note saying it's OK for them return.
Coblentz said district officials are recommending that people who have had direct contact with these children consult their private physicians.
"We're strongly suggesting that they go immediately to the doctor," Coblentz said.
According to Tollefson, vaccination is an effective way to prevent the spread of pertussis. And pertussis vaccines are recommended for all children and adults.
The vaccine is given in combination with diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, called DTaP. It is recommended for children ages 2 months through 6 years old.
A pertussis vaccine for adolescents and adults, called Tdap, is recommended as a one-time booster.
The Leavenworth County Health Department offers both vaccines. Call 913-250-2001 for more information.
Health Department officials also are recommending people cover their mouths with tissues when they cough or cough into their bent arms. It's also recommended that people wash their hands for at least 20 seconds at a time with soap and warm water.