A case of “whooping cough” has been reported at a Westchester middle school.
School officials from the Mamaroneck School District issued an alert to parents warning that a student at Hommocks Middle School in Larchmont may have exposed other children to the disease. It is unclear if or when the child may have spread the infection to fellow students.
According to the Westchester County Health Department, pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is a very contagious disease. Pertussis is caused by a germ that lives in the mouth, nose, and throat. It is spread to others through coughing or sneezing.
Whooping cough can be spread through coughing, sneezing or any other direct contact with discharges from the nose or throat of those infected.
Health officials said that the disease “begins as a mild upper respiratory infection. Initially, symptoms resemble those of a common cold, including sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever and a mild cough. Within two weeks, the cough becomes more severe and is characterized by episodes of numerous rapid coughs followed by a crowing or high pitched whoop.”
Symptoms may not manifest for more than a week, though they can last for upwards of a month.
The Health Department said that the “ single most effective control measure is maintaining the highest possible level of immunization in the community.
Treatment of cases with certain antibiotics such as erythromycin can shorten the contagious period. People who have or may have pertussis should stay away from young children and infants until properly treated. Treatment of people who are close contacts of pertussis cases is also an important part of prevention”
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