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Pertussis pops up at La Cañada High

March 23, 2011

La Cañada Unified School District nurse Danielle Chandler is urging La Cañada High School students to get vaccinated for pertussis — also known as whooping cough — as at least one case has popped up at La Cañada High School.

The La Cañada High School PTAs e-mailed letters to school parents on March 17, informing them about the symptoms and treatments for pertussis.

A bacterial infection, pertussis is spread through the air when people cough. Symptoms usually start out like a common cold, but get worse over one to two weeks. Pertussis produces coughing spells that may last several seconds. As people try to catch their breath at the end of each coughing spell, they may gasp loudly (whoop) and vomit or choke.

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The vaccine usually protects against pertussis, but even immunized children can catch it. Pertussis is treated with antibiotics, which can also prevent the spread of the bacterial infection.

Many schools ask children with pertussis symptoms to stay away from school, so as not to spread the virus, until they’ve received five days of appropriate antibiotics, or 21 days if they choose not to take antibiotics.

The district advises that children younger than 7 who have not received five doses of DTaP vaccine should be vaccinated. Pre-teens (11-12 years old), teens, adults and anyone who is 7 and not fully immunized should receive one dose of the Tdap vaccine, formulated for older children and adults.

Chandler asked parents to have their children seen by a doctor or clinic immediately if a cough begins by today (March 24). Parents with questions are directed to call Alex Pizano, PHN at (818) 500-5760 or Chandler at (818) 952-4226.

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