By Mary O’KEEFE
Two cases of whooping cough have been confirmed in Crescenta Valley schools. One student attends Dunsmore Elementary and the other is at Rosemont Middle School.
In both cases the Glendale school district sent notices home and the students stayed out of school until doctors permitted their return.
“Both students have now returned to class,” said John Garcia, Glendale Unified School District deputy superintendent.
A total of five students have been confirmed with whooping cough in the district.
“We have had about five to 10 documented [cases],” said Dr. John Rodarte, pediatrician whose practice is in La Cañada.
The patients have been school age children, Rodarte added.
From the beginning of the year through July 13, there have been 1,496 cases of pertussis – whooping cough – reported. This is a marked increase from last year when 304 cases were reported in the same time period, according to the California Department of Public Health.
“We are facing what could be the worst year for pertussis that this state has seen in more than 50 years,” stated CDPH Chief of the Center for Infectious Disease Dr. Gilberto Chávez in a press release. He is also the state’s epidemiologist. “We are urging health providers to broaden their use of the pertussis vaccine and we are urging Californians to take the simple step of getting vaccinated to prevent pertussis.”
Rodarte added that a parent’s first defense is to make certain their child is immunized. The pertussis vaccine Tdap is usually given to young children with a booster at age 11 and another booster at 18 years old.
“And just because your child is vaccinated does not mean they won’t [contract whooping cough] but it will make it less severe,” Rodarte said.
The cough is gradual, the doctor said. “The [symptoms are prolonged] for one or two weeks. You may have cold-like symptoms, then the cough begins and that can last six to eight weeks.”
The coughing progresses over time to a point when it is so severe it causes spasms and is difficult for the child to breath. That gasping for air creates the whooping sound.
Whooping cough is highly contagious and can affect children and adults. The treatment does not stop the cough but
reduces the contagious level of the
Rodarte suggest if someone is concerned or especially if they have been
exposed to whooping cough to see the doctor if cold like symptoms begin.
“There is a test, a nasal swab that usually takes four or five days [for the results]. If we feel it is a health concern we will begin treatment right away. If you or your child has been exposed we will treat the whole household,” he added.
Garcia said when there is a confirmed case of whooping cough in a classroom notices are sent home to the parents of that room.
“We have sent over 800 bottles of hand sanitizer over the summer to classrooms and we are reviewing our immunization records for those students with waivers,” Garcia said.
At present there have been no other reports of whooping cough in the Crescenta Valley schools.