Whooping cough confirmed at McPherson school

McPherson, Kansas – There has been a confirmed case of whooping cough in a student at McPherson Middle School.

“It’s not necessarily a worry, but it is something to be conscious of,” said Fern Hess, director of McPherson County Health.

Parents of all students in McPherson’s school district received a call on Monday telling them of a confirmed case of whooping cough at the middle school.

“We just simply wanted parents to know, we didn’t want any panic, there certainly shouldn’t be any panic, but knowledge I think helps parents understand, well, what should I do if my son or daughter was at the middle school and they’re exhibiting signs of a cold,” said superintendent Randy Watson.

The county health department is working closely with the school, offering extended hours, vaccines and setting up an immunization clinic at the school.

“They have done a great job of getting antibiotics available and ready and vaccinations available so we just want to make sure that our parents know all of the options,” said Watson.

Middle schoolers can be especially susceptible to whooping cough because their vaccine starts to wear off at that age before they get a booster shot.

Whooping cough starts out with the symptoms of a regular cold, with the cough getting worse after two weeks, which makes it hard to diagnose right away.

“It’s a concern, and many times a transmission takes place before we know what we’re dealing with,” said Hess.

Students who decline to get a vaccine for religious or other reasons can’t come to school until they get vaccinated or whooping cough is cleared out.

“The nursing staff has been doing two things with it, they’ve been looking at who are behind in their vaccinations and who might be ready for the booster if they want to go ahead at this time and they’ve been making some of those phone calls,” said Watson.

The county health department wants to especially warn parents with infants about whooping cough, it can be very dangerous in children under six-months.

For more information how to protect yourself against whooping cough, please check out the CDC’s article on whooping cough here.

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