Whooping Cough outbreak reported at Saugus High School

Saugus High School.
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One student was diagnosed with Pertussis, commonly known as Whooping Cough, at Saugus High School earlier this month, leading to a potential outbreak among students from the high school.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health responded to reports of 14 cases of Whooping Cough at the high school this year, according to officials with the department.

“Public Health worked with the school to identify close contacts of the patients and ensured that appropriate post-exposure prophylaxis were provided,” the Department of Public Health told the Signal.

As of June 1, the high school is officially closed for summer and no summer school is in session at the site, according to the Department of Public Health.

An email to Saugus High School parents about the first confirmed case of Whooping Cough at the high school was sent on Thursday, June 1, 2017.

News of the first confirmed Whooping Cough case was shared with parents June 1 when Alison Schmidt, district nurse for the William S. Hart Union High School District, shared the information with Saugus High School families through an email.

“The email letter went out to parents because the County Health Department had contacted over at Saugus and said there looked to be a confirmed case,” said Dave Caldwell, public information officer for the Hart District.

According to Caldwell, the Hart District had not received information of any additional cases or outbreaks at other schools from the department.

“If we hear anything else we will certainly be notifying families immediately,” he said.

The email to Saugus High School parents also included a letter from the Department of Public Health about the symptoms, dangers and treatment of Whooping Cough.

“If your child has symptoms that include coughing, or if your child begins coughing over the next three weeks, please take your child to see his/her doctor,” the June 1 letter from the Department of Public Health read.  “Your child should not return to any activity until the doctor tells you it is safe to return.”

Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, is a highly contagious disease that can spread when a person coughs or sneezes, according to the Department of Public Health.

Usually Whooping Cough starts as a cold and gets worse as infected people have coughing attacks that last several seconds.  When they catch their break at the end of a coughing attack they may make a “whoop” sound, vomit or choke.

The illness is usually treated with antibiotics but can last weeks to months and cause serious illness, leading to hospital stays and death, especially for infants.

Even those who are vaccinated are still at risk of catching the bacterial respiratory illness due to decreased prevention overtime, according to the Department of Public Health.

“Please be observant for any signs and symptoms that may be attributed to Pertussis (Whooping Cough) and seek your medical provider if necessary,” the email to Saugus High School parents read.

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