Health officials in Henderson County are dealing with what they are calling an “outbreak” of a potentially deadly bacterial infection, pertussis, better known as whooping cough.
All, but one, of the eight cases, are students in the Henderson County School District.
Five schools in the district have all seen at least one case in the last week: East Henderson High, Rugby Middle, as well as three elementary schools, Clear Creek, Bruce Drysdale, and Hillandale.
“It’s pretty scary because I know it’s very contagious,” said Janette Harvey, whose grandchildren go to various schools in the district.
Doctor Diana Curran with the Henderson County Department of Public Health says so far the outbreak includes 8 confirmed cases, 7 in the school district, but she suspects there will be more.
“Because it can be spread over a 3 week period of time, it can linger in the community longer than something that has a very short period of spread butt we are trying to reduce the amount of pertussis being spread by getting in touch with those close contacts as soon as we do know,” said Curran.
Parents should be aware, the symptoms are very mild at first with just a slight cough and a fever.
And when it comes to the vaccine, health professionals compare it to the seat belt, not 100% effective but it can save lives.
The district, also trying to curb the spread, by getting out the warning through a district wide phone message that said “please keep in mind, anyone can get pertussis, but it can be especially dangerous to infants and people with weakened immune systems.”
Dr. John Bryant, the Associate Superintendent of Henderson County Schools said the schools are also ramping up cleaning.
“We make sure that our custodial staff are ensuring that we have proper sanitation across those areas and keep maybe cleaning things more frequently than we otherwise would just to make sure that we are killing any bacteria that may be present or any of those types of things,” said Bryant.
Harvey, is glad her family is vaccinated, and hopes this will encourage more people to do the same, or get a booster shot if they haven’t within the last 10 years.
“It’s the right thing to do, I feel, I mean you’ve got to protect your children, not only your children but other children,” she said.