What you need to know about the whooping cough outbreak

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Recently, several confirmed cases of pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, have appeared at LOHS. In hopes of fighting the outbreak, potentially affected regions of the school have been wiped down. Cases were reported to Clackamas County Health Department as well.

While many students may feel pressure to attend class or extracurricular events while sick, health officials have emphasized that staying home when ill is essential to the health of the community.  Many members of the community rely on others to stay healthy for their own safety. As their immune systems often lack the strength to fight off the disease, they often experience more severe symptoms. Infants and people with weakened immune systems are at the highest risk to require hospitalization due to whooping cough. A respiratory disease, whooping cough can result in such people requiring a ventilator in a hospital facility in order to breathe. Students and staff members diagnosed with whooping cough may not return to class, extracurricular activities, or work until they have completed five days of antibiotics.

Whooping cough is highly contagious and spread through, “coughing or sneezing or when spending a lot of time near one another where you share breathing space,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After the cough begins, infected individuals can spread the disease for about two weeks. Symptoms of whooping cough include cold-like symptoms, which later grow into fits of “many, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched ‘whoop’ sound,” vomiting, and exhaustion, according to the CDC.

While 95 percent of LOHS students are vaccinated for whooping cough, according to statistics available on the LOSD website, adolescents can still be at risk. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidebook on childhood communicable diseases, “The Red Book,” “neither infection nor immunization provides lifelong immunity [from whooping cough.] Waning immunity… is predominantly responsible for increased cases in school-aged children.” However, the vaccine can generally result in the infection being less serious, even before receiving the vaccine booster as an adult.

The Clackamas County Department of Health recommends staying home and consulting a doctor if you have been experiencing cold symptoms with worsening cough of seven days or more.