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Health district reports case of whooping cough in schools / August 30, 2010
There has been one reported case of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in a student who attends Halifax County Middle School, according to Charles J. Devine III, M.D., Director of the Southside Health District.

Health officials are concerned because of the increase in cases throughout Virginia and the fact that immunity to the disease is not lifelong. This means that people vaccinated in childhood may no longer be protected.

Whooping cough can be a very serious disease, particularly for infants less than one year of age. Since it is quite contagious, the disease can easily spread through the air from a sick person during talking, sneezing or coughing. The illness starts with symptoms similar to a common cold. Children suffering from whooping cough often develop coughing fits, especially at night, giving a high-pitched “whoop” sound. The “whoop” is a sign that a person is struggling to breathe through coughs. The disease can be very severe and, although deaths are rare, they do occur, especially in infants less than one year of age.

Making sure that children receive all their shots on time is the best way to control this disease in the future. Children should receive four doses of DTaP vaccine by 15 months of age and an additional dose of DTaP before they start school.

Parents are urged to check their children’s shot records to be sure they have received all their shots. If they are not sure their children are completely immunized, they should contact their family doctor or their local health department to bring their children’s immunization up to date as soon as possible. Adults and children 7 years and older usually develop a much milder form of pertussis. Anyone who is suspected of having whooping cough or who is exposed to a person with the disease should be seen by his or her physician.

Parents were notified of the occurrence of the disease on Friday as students were given letters of notification to give to their parents. The youth has been allowed to return to school, after being advised by his doctor that he was well enough to return.

For more information, please contact your local health department or log onto the CDC website at: http//

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