Students diagnosed with whooping cough

November 22, 2010 1:07:54 PM PST
The two affected children in Suffolk County are students at Park View Elementary. The county health commissioner says whooping cough is highly contagious and symptoms can develop anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks, so parents need to be especially vigilant to help stop this from spreading countywide.

Students and parents in the Kings Park school district are on alert for whooping cough, also known as Pertussis.

Sonna Salerno has a 5-year-old at Park View school. She was going home to call the doctor.

"Right now she is fine, but I'm worried I didn't realize its so dangerous," Salerno said.

The warning comes after two students in the district have been diagnosed with the potentially fatal bacterial infection. The health department would only say they are elementary aged students and were being treated.

"As a matter of fact, we got a phone call. The student was in my child's class. I am not panicking. Just glad I was made aware," Gelsomine Burke said.

Suffolk county health commissioner Dr. Chaudry says whooping cough is highly contagious and spread in the air by coughing.

Symptoms range from low-grade fever and slight cough to "severe coughing episodes" followed by a long whooping sound and possible vomiting.

It can be fatal to infants who are not fully immunized, but for most children and adults it can be treated.

The district sent a letter to parents highlighting the symptoms of whooping cough. It's suggested parents keep their children home for at least 5 days and see a doctor if the child is experiencing symptoms, which can last two months.

"It's considered highly contagious. You can actually cough or sneeze and spread it to the person next to you," Dr Chaudry said.

Chaudry said both students who contracted whooping cough had been immunized.

He suggested parents call their pediatricians about booster shots since it appears the vaccination is waning for an unknown reason. There are 70 to 80 cases every year in Suffolk County.


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