A student in grade 7 at Bala Cynwyd Middle School is being treated for laboratory-confirmed pertussis (whooping cough). This information was reported to us by the Montgomery County Office of Public Health (OPH). It is possible that your child may have been exposed to pertussis.
Cases of pertussis have increased nationally as well as in our community over recent years. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It can be serious in children up to seven years of age and in those who are not completely immunized against the disease.
Bacteria are spread by inhaling infected droplets of a coughing or sneezing child or by direct contact with discharges from a running nose. Household members and close contacts that have been exposed to the infected child are at increased risk.
The Montgomery County Health Department, in consultation with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, is making the following recommendations:
- Parents/Guardians should review each child's health record to determine the vaccination status of the child.
- Children should be observed over the next 2 weeks for any symptoms such as a running nose, sudden, uncontrollable bursts or spells of coughing that persist and sometimes cause vomiting. These symptoms should be reported immediately to your pediatrician.
- If your child comes down with cold symptoms that include a cough, the child should be evaluated by his/her pediatrician. Evaluation should include a nasopharyngeal culture for pertussis.
- Children with pertussis, if their medical condition allows, may return to school five (5) days after starting appropriate antibiotics and must continue taking the antibiotics until completed.
- All household members and close contacts of a pertussis case should receive preventative antibiotics regardless of their age or vaccination status.
Here are some helpful reminders regarding pertussis-containing vaccine for various age groups:
- If your child is under the age of 7 years and has not received the full recommended vaccination series (DTaP at 2, 4 and 6 months, first booster at 15 –18 months and second booster at 4 – 6 years), please contact your pediatrician and complete the vaccination schedule.
- Children ages 7 –10 who have not received the full recommended vaccination series should receive a dose of Tdap at the earliest opportunity.
- Persons between the ages of 11 and 64 who have not received a previous dose of Tdap vaccine should receive a single dose. No minimum interval since a previous dose of Td needs to be observed.
- Persons aged 65 and older may also receive a single dose of Tdap vaccine, as directed by their primary care physician.
Finally, infants under one year are most likely to experience severe illness if they develop pertussis. When possible, young infants should be kept away from people with a cough. Infants with any coughing illness should be promptly evaluated by their pediatrician.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call Montgomery County Office of Public Health, the Division of Communicable Disease Control at 610 278-5117. You may also call the LMSD Health Services Office at 610 645-1829.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Terry Quinlan-Clampffer MEd, MA, RN, CSN
Lead Supervisor of School Health and Student Safety