Whooping Cough confirmed in Delavan-Darien Schools

Click for the CDC Pertussis Website (CDC photo)

November 13, 2014

Dear Delavan-Darien School District Parents,

The Walworth County Health Department has been alerting school districts across the area about an increase in the number of Pertussis (whooping cough) cases they’ve seen the past several weeks.

To date, the county health department has identified six (6) cases in the Delavan-Darien School District, including at least one case at each school building (two confirmed cases at Delavan-Darien High School).

Keep in mind, we educate more than 2,400 students and have more than 300 staffers regularly in our buildings. We are sending you this information as a preemptive measure so you too can help keep all children and staff in the Delavan-Darien community as healthy as possible.

Below is more information about Pertussis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the district’s response to limit the spread of the disease to other children and adults in our school buildings.

Transmission

Pertussis is a very contagious disease only found in humans and is spread from person to person. People with Pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the Pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get Pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. Symptoms of Pertussis usually develop within 5–10 days after being exposed, but sometimes it may take up to three weeks for symptoms to develop.

While Pertussis vaccines are the most effective tool we have to prevent this disease, no vaccine is 100% effective. If Pertussis is circulating in the community, there is a chance that a fully vaccinated person, of any age, can catch this very contagious disease. If you have been vaccinated, the infection is usually less severe. If you or your child develops a cold that includes a severe cough or a cough that lasts for a long time, it may be Pertussis. The best way to know is to contact your doctor.

Symptoms

Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever. After 1 to 2 weeks, severe coughing can begin. Unlike the common cold, Pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks.

Hygiene and Prevention

hand-washing-photoLike many respiratory illnesses, Pertussis is spread by coughing and sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the Pertussis bacteria. Practicing good hygiene is always recommended to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put your used tissue in the waste basket.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizing rub.

District response

cough-into-your-elbowThe Delavan-Darien School District has taken the following steps to try and limit the spread of Pertussis:

  • Staff were informed to be observant for students displaying symptoms of Pertussis. Any student showing possible symptoms will be sent to the school’s health office for evaluation. Students believed to be possibly ill with Pertussis are sent home.
  • Staff and students are being asked to wash their hands frequently throughout the day.
  • Staff and students are being reminded the importance of coughing/sneezing etiquette (into a tissue or sleeve).
  • The district is deploying additional hand-sanitizing stations to all schools.
  • Custodial staff is paying extra attention to cleaning commonly-touched areas, such as doorknobs, faucet handles, drinking fountains, etc.
  • The district nurse has been in regular contact with the Walworth County Health Department for updated information on Pertussis in the community and is following the county health department’s recommendations.

Who to contact

As we noted in a letter we sent home with all students earlier this month, if you feel someone in your family may have Pertussis, or if you simply have questions, please call the Walworth County Health Department at 262-741-3200.  You may also call this number to make an appointment for a Pertussis vaccination.  The vaccination if free to children who do not have insurance.  You can also contact your family doctor for more information about the disease and being vaccinated. Our district nurse can be reached at 262-728-2642 ext. 4416.

Further Resources

There are many websites available with more information about Pertussis. Some of the best information we’ve found comes from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

Downloads (flyers, info sheets, etc.)

About ddschools

324 Beloit St. Delavan, WI 53115 www.ddschools.org
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