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Pertussis at Local High School

posted Jan 16, 2018, 7:09 AM by Wyckoff Peds   [ updated Jan 16, 2018, 7:17 AM ]

We have been made aware that there is a diagnosed case of pertussis (whooping cough) at Indian Hills High School. At this point the individual who was diagnosed will be out of the school building until she/he is cleared by a physician. 

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by a cough or a sneeze. Pertussis begins with cold symptoms and a cough, which become much worse over 1-2 weeks. Symptoms usually include a long series of coughing fits followed by a whooping noise. However, older children, adults, and very young infants may not develop the whooping noise. There is generally only a slight fever. People with pertussis may have a series of severe coughing fits followed immediately by vomiting, turning blue, or difficulty catching breath. The cough is often worse at night, and cough medicines usually do not help alleviate the cough.

If your child has been around someone with pertussis, she/he might become sick with the disease. This is especially true if your child is not up-to-date with his/her pertussis vaccine shots. Even if your child’s shots are up-to-date, she/he might still get pertussis.

If your child has been in contact with someone with pertussis, antibiotics prescribed by your doctor may prevent him/her from becoming ill. If your child is already sick, giving antibiotics early can help your child get well faster, and lower the chance of spreading the disease to others.

Please consider the following New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services recommendations:

1.    Infants under one year old, especially those under six months, are more likely to have severe symptoms if they develop pertussis. When possible, young infants should be kept away from people with a cough. Infants with any coughing illness should be seen promptly by their doctor.

2.    Pertussis vaccine has until recently been given only to children under 7 years old. However, a new adolescent and adult pertussis booster vaccine is now available for persons ages 10-64 years. If you have children who have not been completely immunized against pertussis (particularly infants under one year) we recommend that you talk to your child’s doctor about the benefits of vaccination.

3.    If your child comes down with cold symptoms that include a cough, talk to your child’s doctor immediately. Tell the doctor that pertussis has been identified at your child’s school.

4.    It is generally recommended that those persons having close contact with a pertussis case receive antibiotics from their doctor to help prevent them from getting pertussis.

5.    Do not send your child to school if she/he has any signs or symptoms of pertussis.

We will continue to monitor the situation at Ramapo Indian Hills, and if additional actions to control the spread of pertussis becomes necessary, we will be sure to notify you.

If you have general concerns or questions about pertussis, please contact the Bergen County Department of Health Services at 201-634-2600 or  

If you have specific concerns or questions about your child’s health, contact your healthcare provider.