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Exeter High School whooping cough case investigated State looking to identify others who may have been exposed State looking to identify others who may have been exposed

Portsmouth Herald - 6/15/2018

EXETER - The state's Bureau of Infectious Disease Control is conducting an investigation after an Exeter High School student was diagnosed with whooping cough.

Interim-Superintendent Dr. Christine Rath said she could not comment on the condition of the student or how many additional students could have been exposed to the disease.

She said the state Department of Health and Human Services was still following up with those who may have been exposed.

"We're encouraging all staff and students, if they're not feeling well to get checked by their doctor," Rath said on Monday. "We've been following all the department and health procedures and have been diligent in our cleaning."

The school notified the state Division of Public Health Services on June 1 after the student was diagnosed. The state DPHS investigates any notification of a whooping cough diagnosis in order to identify whether other individuals may have come in contact with the bacteria and if they require antibiotics.

Pertussis, more commonly referred to as whooping cough, is a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract that can cause a persistent cough, according to DPHS. Early symptoms usually include upper respiratory cold-like symptoms including low-grade fever, cough, and runny nose. These symptoms can last for one to two weeks before progressing to the more typical syndrome that includes intense fits of coughing sometimes with a high-pitched 'Whoop' and occasionally ending with vomiting, according to the DPHS.

In a letter sent home to parents, the state DPHS said they are working with school officials to identify individuals who may have pertussis or be at risk of developing an infection. The state DPHS is also reaching out to those individuals who have been identified as a higher risk of a pertussis infection in order to recommend antibiotics when needed.

After a person is exposed to pertussis, symptoms usually develop within five to 10 days, but in some cases may not develop for up to 21 days, according to the DPHS. Pertussis is most likely to be passed to other people during the first few weeks a person is ill, according to DPHS. Individuals with pertussis are no longer considered contagious after a five-day course of antibiotics taken to treat the infection, according to DPHS.

Whooping cough can be prevented with a pertussis vaccine, which is typically administered in four or five doses before a child turns 5. New Hampshire children entering the seventh grade in public school are required by law to get at least one round of the pertussis vaccines, Diphtheria and Tetanus (Tdap Vaccine) on or after their seventh birthday.

 
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