WICHITA, Kan. – An elementary school in Wichita reports one of its students has whooping cough, also known as pertussis. The school nurse for Kelly Elementary sent out a letter to parents earlier this week notifying them of the case.
KSN has learned the child was excluded from school once it pertussis was confirmed.
Health department officials report there hasn’t been a sharp increase this year in pertussis cases, saying they’ve had 60 cases this year. That compares to 55 cases this time last year.
Still, they are taking a proactive approach to make sure the illness doesn’t spread to other students.
“We were contacted by the school nurse on September 30th and instructed her to contact the Sedgwick County Health Department, said Kimber Kasitz, the coordinator of health services for Wichita Public Schools.
Kasitz says letters were sent home to the parents by the school nurse at Kelly Elementary notifying them of the reported case and asking them to be on the look-out for the symptoms.
“Pertussis spreads by droplets, so when you’re coughing and you have pertussis you can spread it to someone else,” said Chris Steward, an epidemiologist with the Sedgwick County Health Department.
“Within one to two weeks you start severe coughing fits, you may or may not have a whoop sound, said Steward. “You could have vomiting after coughing.”
Steward says the school district and health department work closely with school nurses when the report of any illness, whooping cough included, is reported.
Steward stressed the importance of making sure your child is up to date on their vaccines.
“You get five shots before you are in school, five shots of the DTap, and then at age 11 and older you get one TDap shot,” Steward said, adding that that will help better fight whooping cough if you are exposed to it.
Kasitz says the school district takes the necessary precautions, making sure students who do have it, don’t expose anyone else.
“They mandate that those students are excluded and stay home for five days while they are on the antibiotic treatments, so that’s also a protective measure for all the other students that are there,” said Kasitz.
Kazits says that if any student in the district is not up to date on immunizations and vaccines by November 16th, they will be excluded from school until they get the shots.
She adds letters were sent out to parents last spring and this fall saying this is one way to prevent the spread of diseases, like whooping cough.