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Whooping cough case reported at Glenbrook North

Friday, January 22, 2016
Chicago Tribune
by Irv Leavitt

A case of pertussis – commonly known as whooping cough – has been reported at Glenbrook North High School, District 225 confirmed today.

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that is spread through coughing and sneezing, and can be very serious in young children, according to Cook County Health Department information sent to parents by the district.

"This may have been a good time for this to happen, though there is no good time, of course, for it to happen," said Karen Geddeis, District 225 spokeswoman. She said the infected student's last day in school was Jan. 14, and there has been "little movement around the school" to spread germs since – a day off for a reserved snow day Friday, Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Day on Monday, Jan. 18, three days of finals, and an institute day off today.

The school nursing staff sent emails to parents at about 10 a.m. today, warning them to watch for the disease in their children, and how to care for them.

Whooping cough remains infectious for weeks after the pertussis bacteria is contracted, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It spreads through sneezing, coughing and contact. Part of its threat is that it can lead to pneumonia. Symptoms start with mild cough, runny nose and, sometimes, fever, and can elevate to severe coughing fits.

Nationally, the occurrence of whopping cough has greatly increased in recent years, according to the CDC, due to failure of children to be vaccinated, and of adults to get boosters.

There were dozens of cases in Cook County in 2004, but Illinois is now one of the states where the incidence is dropping, according to the CDC. Vaccination of sixth graders has been the law here since 2011.

Geddeis said she did not know whether the Glenbrook North student had been vaccinated, or what his condition is.

Warren Township High School in Gurnee informed parents of a case at that school last week.

ileavitt@pioneerlocal.com



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