County student diagnosed with whooping cough

COUNTY — A Chastain Road Elementary student was recently diagnosed with whooping cough, according to School District of Pickens County spokesman John Eby.

Eby said the district learned of the student’s diagnosis from the State Department of Health and Environmental Control on Oct. 8.

“A letter was sent home with students at the end of the day, and the principal notified parents by phone and email,” Eby said. “According to DHEC, other students may have been exposed between Sept. 15 and Oct. 7. If parents notice any symptoms of whooping cough in their children, we strongly encourage them to keep them home from school and schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately.”

According to DHEC, whooping cough — also known as pertussis — is a contagious disease that affects the nose, throat, windpipe and lungs. It spreads easily by coughing or sneezing, and DHEC officials said those who have it may experience coughing fits, even throwing up after coughing, and the severe cough can last for weeks or months. Babies may have spells when they stop breathing.

Anyone exposed to whooping cough or who starts coughing in the next three weeks, should stay away from group activities such as work, school, sports, playgroups and church, according to a letter from the school district. Those concerned should also make an appointment with a healthcare provider as soon as possible, telling the provider about the cough and the possible exposure, and take the letter with them to the appointment.

In the event a healthcare provider diagnoses someone with whooping cough, they are advised to stay home from work, school or childcare until the person with whooping cough has been on antibiotics for five days. In addition, the person with whooping cough should not go to other activities during that time or have visitors during the first five days of antibiotics. School district officials also said healthcare providers should ask for a note that states the person has whooping cough and provide it to the school, childcare or employer.

Those with whooping cough should cover their mouth and nose while coughing, use tissues and throw them away carefully and, most importantly, wash their hands often.

According to the DHEC website, children younger than 6 are required to receive free booster whooping cough vaccines in order to attend school. The childhood vaccinations are given in five separate doses at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months of age and before starting elementary school.

The new booster requirement for seventh graders is also recommended for children and teens who are not fully vaccinated against whooping cough and adults, as well as healthcare personnel, who are in contact with infants and pregnant women.