The Pueblo West View

Pertussis found at Pueblo West high school

Public health officials Tuesday confirmed one pertussis case and an unspecified number of suspected cases at Pueblo West High School.

All of the cases involve students who have had many close contacts at the school and in the community. The Pueblo City County-Health Department has investigated many of those contacts and made appropriate recommendations for testing and treatment, according to a health department news release.

Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods, health department director, said she is grateful for cooperation and assistance from the high school, School District 70 and the medical community in a strategy aimed at stemming the outbreak.

Students, staff members and family members at Pueblo West High School are being monitored for symptoms of pertussis, which produces a severe cough, Nevin-Woods said.

Anyone found to be infected will have to stay at home until treatment is finished.

“Pertussis is a highly contagious disease. Treatment and vaccination is important in preventing its spread to others who are likely to get the illness,” Nevin-Woods said.

Adolescents and adults with a severe cough (often with a characteristic “whoop” sound) should be checked by their doctor and tested for pertussis. And anyone likely to be exposed should be vaccinated, she said.

Whooping cough disease starts like the common cold, with a runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe a mild cough or fever. But after one or two weeks, severe coughing can begin and, in teens, it can last for more than 10 weeks, Nevin-Woods said.

The cough can be so severe that it causes vomiting and makes it difficult for babies and young children to breathe, eat and drink liquids. Pertussis can even kill very young infants.

“Vaccinations, including Tdap, are very important in preventing illness. Call your doctor to make sure you are up to date,” Nevin-Woods said.

Tdap is one of the vaccines required by state law for children from sixth through 12th grades.

lorettas@chieftain.com

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