Whoop­ing cough cases re­ported at SAHS

Souderton Independent - - FRONT PAGE - By Linda Stein

Three Soud­er­ton Area High School students were di­ag­nosed with whoop­ing cough, or per­tus­sis, of­fi­cials said.

The Soud­er­ton Area School Dis­trict sent par­ents an alert Wed­nes­day about the con­firmed cases, along with in­for­ma­tion about the dis­ease, which fea­tures an un­con­trol­lable, vi­o­lent cough that makes it hard to breathe. Af­ter cough­ing fits, a per­son can then strug­gle to breathe and emit a char­ac­ter­is­tic “whoop­ing” sound, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from the Mont­gomery County Health Depart­ment.

The three 15-year-old students are all friends and “hung around with each other this sum­mer,” said Frank Custer, a spokesman for Mont­gomery County. He em­pha­sized that they con­tracted the per­tus­sis in­fec­tion in the community, not the school. Those who were in contact with them are be­ing given pre­ven­ta­tive treat­ment, Custer said.

All three students had prior vac­ci­na­tions for per­tus­sis, Custer said. How­ever, the vac­ci­na­tion does not al­ways pro­vide 100 per­cent pro­tec­tion. What it does do is lessen the sever­ity of the dis­ease so pa­tients don’t have to be hos­pi­tal­ized.

“Per­tus­sis is a cycli­cal thing,” Custer said. ,W WHQGV WR VSLNH HvHUy IRuU RU fivH yHDUV. SR far this year, Mont­gomery County has seen 156 FRQ­fiUPHG FDVHV. TKHUH wHUH 38 LQ 2011 DQG 128 LQ 2010.

The amount of per­tus­sis cases in the county is “con­sis­tent” with those in the state and across the United States, Custer said.

&RuQWy KHDOWK RI­fiFLDOV wLOO EH GLVFuVVLQJ per­tus­sis with the school nurses at SAHS, he said.

Symp­toms of per­tus­sis be­gin within seven to 10 days of ex­po­sure, but can take as long as six weeks to ap­pear. It be­gins as a mild ill­ness like a com­mon cold but pro­gresses to the se­vere cough. Com­pli­ca­tions can in­clude pneu­mo­nia, de­hy­dra­tion, seizures, en­cephalopa­thy and death, ac­cord­ing to the health depart­ment.

Gen­er­ally, the dis­ease re­sponds to an­tibiRWLFV DQG HDUOy WUHDWPHQW FDQ KHOS, RI­fiFLDOV said. In­fants less than 1 year old are the most likely to de­velop se­vere ill­ness if they con­tract per­tus­sis. Ba­bies with any cough should EH FKHFNHG Ey WKHLU SHGLDWULFLDQ, RI­fiFLDOV DGvise.

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