A number of St. Michael-Albertville School District student have been diagnosed with pertussis, also known as “whooping cough,” according to a statement from the school district released Thursday, April 18.
The district did not specify which buildings the infected students attended.
Pertussis presents as a severe cold, but the infection persists, with those suffering from the illness developing a severe cough that can lead to vomiting or a high-pitched “whooping” noise. It’s incredibly contagious, via water droplets released by the severe cough, but most have been vaccinated against the bacteria via the DTaP inoculation.
Here is the official statement from the school district:
We are writing to make you aware that we have had confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) identified in the St. Michael-Albertville School District. All cases have been treated and we are taking the necessary steps to keep our students and staff informed and safe.
Pertussis is a bacterial illness that anyone of any age can get. The first symptoms of pertussis are similar to a cold: runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and possibly a low-grade fever. After 1 or 2 weeks, the cough worsens and begins to occur in sudden, uncontrollable bursts that cause vomiting and/or a high-pitched whooping noise afterward. Persons with pertussis may appear well between these coughing spells or only have them at night. Coughing spells become less frequent over time, but it may take weeks or months until the lungs heal.
Persons with pertussis should not go to school, work, or participate in any activities until they have finished five days of antibiotic treatment unless that person has been coughing for three or more weeks. A person is no longer contagious after the third week even though the cough can linger as the lungs heal.
Most people have been vaccinated for pertussis, however, protection decreases over time. For this reason, pertussis can occur in anyone of any age. Now would be a good time to verify that your child is up-to-date with the pertussis vaccine. Vaccinated persons with pertussis typically have milder symptoms but can still spread the bacteria. This is important as adults and older children can unknowingly expose persons who are at risk for more severe illness, such as infants and people with weakened immune systems.
If you have specific concerns or questions about your child’s health, contact your health care provider. If you have general concerns or questions about pertussis, please contact Wright County Public Health at 763-682-7469 or Minnesota Department of Health at 651-201-5414/877-676-5414. You can also visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s Pertussis (Whooping Cough) website (https://www.health.state.mn.