PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

April 11, 2013

Nederland elementary school student contracts whooping cough

NEDERLAND — A student at Helena Park Elementary School in Nederland has contracted pertussis — more commonly referred to as “whooping cough” — the district reported on Thursday.

Helena Park principal Darrell Evans said the child’s parents notified the school of their daughter’s illness. After receiving confirmation from the family’s physician, the district sent out a letter informing the parents of the symptoms and what to do if their child develops them.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory diseased caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. The disease usually stars with cold-like symptoms — runny nose, low-grade fever, mild, occassional cough. After one to two weeks, fits of violent, rapid coughing will occur, ending in a high-pitched “whoop” or gasping sound. Patients often vomit as a result of this.

“Most kids are vaccinated at an early age, so it’s a rare case nowadays,” Evans said. “There have been cases where it can be fatal, but most of the ones that I read about were in small infants.”

The student has been treated and is now back in school after a full recovery, Evans said. Because she has two siblings who attend school at other NISD campuses, those campuses have also been notified.

Evans said he encourages parents to keep an eye on their children.

“See the family physician if the cold seems to last longer than normal,” he said. “Once the severe coughing starts, you know that it’s whooping cough.”

The schools are also making an effort to ensure the disease does not spread, Evans said.

“We try to monitor the best we can at school,” he said. “Hopefully nobody else contracts it.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA

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