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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • 'Whooping cough' outbreak appears whipped

  • The recent pertussis, or "whooping cough," outbreaks in local schools appears to have subsided. At least 45 people were affected by the two outbreaks, Leavenworth County Health Department officials said.
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    • What is pertussis
      Pertussis, commonly known as the "whooping cough," is a highly-contagious respiratory disease known for uncontrollable, violent coughing, according to the Centers for Disease Control an...
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      What is pertussis
      Pertussis, commonly known as the "whooping cough," is a highly-contagious respiratory disease known for uncontrollable, violent coughing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
      Pertussis can be fatal, especially in children younger than 1.
      The best way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP, and the pertussis booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap, according to the CDC website.
  • The recent pertussis, or "whooping cough," outbreaks in local schools appears to have subsided. At least 45 people were affected by the two outbreaks, Leavenworth County Health Department officials said.
    The outbreaks occurred in the Easton and Leavenworth public school systems. The last case reported in either school system was in late October, said Jamie Miller, Leavenworth County Health Department director.
    None of the cases reported during the outbreaks were fatal.
    Miller said cases in a school setting are officially classified as an outbreak when there are two or more. He acknowledged that, under this definition, an outbreak may not be as serious as some may believe.
    "That's what they use in a classification," Miller said of the term.
    Pertussis is a highly-contagious bacterial respiratory illness spread through coughing and sneezing.
    It causes cold-like symptoms, followed by a long, severe cough that can last for weeks. It can affect people of any age, but poses the most serious danger for infants, especially those too young to be vaccinated, said Amy Tollefson, Leavenworth County Health Department spokeswoman.
    The first outbreak started in September, affecting people in the Easton school district. The outbreak resulted in a total of 35 cases, the last of which was reported Oct. 24, Miller said.
    Most of the cases involved school children, but at least two adults also were confirmed to have pertussis.
    Third-graders at Pleasant Ridge Elementary School had the most cases reported ― 10. But, most other grades in the district also were affected.
    Four people diagnosed with pertussis in the outbreak live in Atchison County, but attend school in the Easton district.
    The outbreak drew the attention of NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, who visited the Kansas City area in October for a race.
    "We certainly want all of the parents out there to know that we're thinking about them," Gordon said in an interview with the Leavenworth Times. Gordon is an ambassador for a program called Sounds of Pertussis.
    The Leavenworth public schools outbreak was in October. Ten people were confirmed to have pertussis, including one adult.
    Four of the cases involved Leavenworth High School students. West Intermediate School, Henry Leavenworth Elementary School and Anthony Elementary School each had at least one case, Miller said.
    The last reported case associated with the outbreak was Oct. 22.
    Statewide, there have been 292 cases of pertussis this year. There have been no pertussis-related deaths in the state in 2013, said Aimee Rosenow, Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokeswoman.
    During the local outbreaks, Leavenworth County Health Department officials encouraged people to be vaccinated for pertussis.
    Tollefson said the Health Department still wants to reinforce the importance of vaccination as an effective way to prevent the spread of pertussis. Vaccines are recommended for all children and adults.
    Page 2 of 2 - Tollefson said the Health Department has vaccines available. People may also be able to get the vaccines at their local doctor's office.
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