Whooping cough case confirmed at Oceanside Middle School

By Stephen Betts | Jan 29, 2019

Thomaston — The Maine Center for Disease Control is investigating a case of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, at Oceanside Middle School.

The school issued a notice to parents Tuesday, Jan. 29. Oceanside Middle School serves students from Rockland, Thomaston, Owls Head, South Thomaston and Cushing.

Regional School Unit 13 Superintendent John McDonald said there is one confirmed case.

Pertussis is an illness that is spread through coughing and sneezing. Pertussis usually begins with symptoms of a common cold (sore throat and runny nose), and often develops into a severe cough. The cough can last for several weeks or more.

Most children are vaccinated against pertussis, but it is still possible for vaccinated children to become ill. Babies are most at risk of serious illness.

According to the CDC, in December there were 52 cases of pertussis confirmed across Maine. The cases were centered in York County (14), Hancock County (14), 10 in Waldo County, seven in Cumberland County, four in Sagadahoc County, two in Kennebec County and one in Androscoggin County.

Individuals who are not coughing do not need to be excluded from activities need not be tested. Antibiotics are not routinely recommended for casual contacts of pertussis cases, but may be recommended to household members.

To prevent the spread of pertussis, the following steps are recommended:

If your child has a severe cough (may include coughing to the point of gagging, vomiting after coughing or difficulty breathing) or a prolonged cough lasting two weeks or longer, contact your health care provider. If your provider suspects pertussis, they will obtain a specimen to be sent for testing.

Children/adults with severe cough, prolonged cough or confirmed pertussis will be started on antibiotics and will need to remain at home for five days while taking these antibiotics.

Check with your medical provider to be sure you and your child are up to date on pertussis vaccine.

Most children have the vaccine series before the age 7 years-old, but their immunity to the disease may gradually wane over time. Booster shots are now recommended for children 11 to 18 years old. A single shot is also recommended for adults, especially adults who have contact with infants and young children. A booster is recommended with every pregnancy

For more information, contact the Maine CDC at 800-821-5821.

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