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Whooping Cough Outbreak at Yuba River Charter School


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By: Rick Haffey via Nevada County Friday Memo

February 8, 2013 - There have been two confirmed cases of Pertussis (also known as Whooping Cough) in a classroom at Yuba River Charter School. Nevada County Public Health Department is currently investigating this outbreak. This is highly contagious and potentially dangerous disease, particularly to infants and babies. A Pertussis cough can last weeks to months.

Currently there is an effective vaccine for the prevention of Pertussis. However vaccination rates at this school are quite low, thus increasing the potential for further spread of the disease. California law currently requires children to receive five doses of the vaccine which prevents Whooping Cough by kindergarten unless a parent has exercised a personal belief exemption. According to Holly Whittaker, Epidemiologist at Nevada County Public Health, the kindergarten vaccination rates for the Yuba River Charter School is 18.64% for the most recent school year. Nevada County's vaccination rate is 71.58% and the state vaccination rate is 91.0%.

The Nevada County Public Health Officer has ordered Yuba River Charter School to exclude from school attendance any child in this class who is ill until they have been evaluated by a qualified health care provider. Whopping Cough is treated with a short course of antibiotics. Once ill students are treated for 5 days with antibiotics, they can return to school, or if qualified health care provider determines that they do not have Pertussis, they can return to the classroom. If a student with confirmed or suspected Pertussis and not undergoing a treatment regimen, they will be excluded until 3 weeks after cough onset. Contagion generally lasts up to approximately four weeks from the onset of the first symptoms.

If the outbreak continues to spread, there could be further student restrictions. The Public Health Department is conducting a vaccination clinic at the school today and working with local doctors and hospitals to ensure that outbreak is monitored, treated and controlled.

Good sources of information on Pertussis or Whooping Cough is available at the California Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control:
http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Pertussis.aspx
http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/index.html

 

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