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Whooping Cough Worries At Encinal

Encinal Junior & Senior High School is dealing with an outbreak of whooping cough. (Google Street View)

Encinal Junior & Senior High School is dealing with an outbreak of whooping cough. (Google Street View)

Encinal Junior & Senior High School principal Daniel Hurst has sent a letter to families to calm concerns about an outbreak of pertussis, or whooping cough, among students.

Since the beginning of school year, seven students diagnosed with pertussis.

Hurst wrote that, based on the expertise of the Alameda County health department and the school district, “whooping cough is very common in California, and it is generally not a serious health issue for healthy teenagers. In fact, the reason we notify families when there is a case is because we want to protect vulnerable family members, such as infants, pregnant women in their last trimester, and people with compromised immune systems (such as those receiving chemotherapy or dialysis).”

Further, Hurst wrote, “whooping cough is also a cyclic disease that peaks every three to five years. Here in California, unfortunately, we are currently in a “peak” period of whooping cough, which is one reason why we are seeing cases at Encinal. Another factor leading to high rates of whooping cough in California: teens appear to be losing their immunity as early as three years after their booster vaccination for whooping cough. In fact, in 2014 teens had the highest incidence of any age group in 2014, despite receiving boosters at ages 11 to 12.”

Whooping cough is highly contagious and is spread through the air by sneezing and coughing.

The early symptoms often mimic those of a cold: i.e., a runny nose, sore throat, slight fever, and generally feeling unwell. After about a week, the symptoms progress to an intense cough (often with mucus or vomiting and often worse at night).

Hurst advises that parents should take students who develop these symptoms to their doctor, and keep them at home while they are contagious.

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