January 17, 2013
Dear Preschool Parents,
We have received notification that we have one confirmed case
of whooping cough (pertussis).
We have obtained some information from the Iowa Department
of Public Health regarding whooping cough for your review. If
you have any questions, please contact the school office or
your family doctor.
Dr. Thomas Budnik, Principal
Mrs. Lois Vidimos, Administrative Assistant
Mrs. Jody Weber, Preschool Teacher
Pertussis is a disease caused by a bacteria. It causes severe spells of
coughing. These spells can interfere with eating, drinking, and
breathing. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, convulsions,
inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and sometimes death. It is
most common in infants less than one year old, but anyone can get
it. It is also known as whopping cough because of the high-pitched
whooping sound made when breathing in during coughing spells.
Pertussis is reportable to the Iowa Department of Public Health
by Iowa Administrative Code 641 Chapter 1.
On average, it will take 9-10 days after being infected with pertussis
to start to show signs and symptoms. At first, symptoms will look a
lot like the common cold:
Runny nose
Nasal congestion
Red, watery eyes
A mild fever
Dry cough
Within two weeks, symptoms worsen and a severe cough develops
that might:
Become a series of violent coughs making it hard to breathe
Be more severe at night
Bring up thick phlegm
Cause vomiting
End with a high-pitched "whoop" sound when breathing in after a
series of coughs
However, infants under 6 months old may not develop a whoop but
may have temporarily stop breathing or have a bluish tint to their
skin. Older children and adults also may not develop a whoop but will
have a long lasting cough, or have symptoms like bronchitis or
asthma. Vaccinated people might also have milder symptoms.
Pertussis is caused by breathing in a bacteria carried on droplets from
other’s coughs and sneezes.
Once inhaled into the lungs, the bacteria grows and produces a toxin
that keeps your lungs from moving fluids and germs out. Thick
mucus accumulates inside the airways and results in an
uncontrollable cough.
The “whoop” sound is caused by the sucking in of air through the
restricted airways after a coughing fit.
Risk Factors
Though a vaccine is available against pertussis, protection wears off
5-10 years after the last dose leaving most teenagers and adults not
fully protected. Also, a person is not fully immune until after three
doses of a pertussis vaccine.
There are four combination vaccines used to prevent diphtheria,
tetanus and pertussis: DTaP, Tdap, DT, and Td. Two of these
(DTaP and DT) are given to children younger than 7 years of
age, and two (Tdap and Td) are given to older children and
adults. Several other combination vaccines contain DTaP along
with other childhood vaccines. Children should get 5 doses of
DTaP, one dose at each of the following ages: 2, 4, 6, and 15-18
months and 4-6 years. DT does not contain pertussis, and is
used as a substitute for DTaP for children who cannot tolerate
pertussis vaccine. Td is a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine given to
adolescents and adults as a booster shot every 10 years, or after
an exposure to tetanus under some circumstances. Tdap is
similar to Td but also containing protection against pertussis.
Adolescents 11-18 years of age (preferably at age 11-12 years)
and adults 19 through 64 years of age should receive a single
dose of Tdap. For adults 65 and older who have close contact
with an infant and have not previously received Tdap, one dose
should be received. Tdap should also be given to 7-10 year olds
who are not fully immunized against pertussis. Tdap can be
given no matter when Td was last received. [Upper-case letters
in these abbreviations denote full-strength doses of diphtheria
(D) and tetanus (T) toxoids and pertussis (P) vaccine. Lowercase “d” and “p” denote reduced doses of diphtheria and
pertussis used in the adolescent/adult-formulations. The “a” in
DTaP and Tdap stands for “acellular,” meaning that the pertussis
component contains only a part of the pertussis organism.]
Handwashing is important for preventing all illness including
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
Avoid others when coughing
In general, you should stay home when you are sick. If you are
diagnosed with pertussis or are a contact to a known case of
pertussis and have symptoms, you should stay home for 21 days
or until you have completed 5 full days of antibiotics
An appropriate antibiotic can be given if given early in illness
Fluids, oxygen, and mild sedation may help a child during
prolonged periods of severe coughing
Always consult your health care provider if you have questions
about your health or before starting any treatment