Whooping Cough outbreak reported at several SCV schools


An outbreak of Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, thought to be contained to Saugus High School has also been reported at at least five other Santa Clarita Valley high schools and junior high schools this month.

“Single cases of pertussis are commonly diagnosed in schools and more than five schools in the area have had at least one recent case of pertussis,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health told the Signal.  “Public Health investigates each case to assure appropriate treatment and prevention, and releases information about case clusters when such disclosure is necessary to inform those who are at increased risk to take appropriate action (get vaccinated).”

On June 1 and June 2, families at Saugus High School, Valencia High School and West Ranch High School all received emails from their schools’ administrations stating that a case of Whooping Cough was confirmed at each school site.

At Saugus High School alone, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health responded to 14 cases of Whooping Cough 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, all three high schools closed for summer vacation.  No summer school is in session at Saugus or West Ranch high schools, but summer school is expected to continue at Valencia High School this month, according to each school’s websites.

Dave Caldwell, public information officer for the William S. Hart Union High School District, said the email was sent out to parents at Saugus High School when the Department of Public Health reached out to the high school’s administration.

“The email letter went out to parents because the County Health Department had been contacted over at Saugus and said there looked to be a confirmed case,” Caldwell said.

The notifications were also a caution to parents to alert them of the outbreak and inform them of the warning signs.

“This is a precautionary measure, and hopefully no one else becomes ill,” the email from Valencia High School read.

Emails to all three of the school sites 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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