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Whooping cough outbreak reported in Cache Valley

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NORTH LOGAN — Officials are reporting a whooping cough outbreak at North Park Elementary school.

Cache County School District spokesman Kirk McRae confirmed that there have been seven cases of whooping cough at the elementary. He said the school has temporarily excluded as many as 15 students from attendance who were not vaccinated against the disease, in accordance with health department recommendations.

Whooping Cough Symptoms
The symptoms of whooping cough usually occur in two stages:
  • First stage
    Runny nose
    Possibly low-grade fever

  • Second stage
    Uncontrolled coughing spells or fits
    Possible whooping noise when child breathes in
    Can last for 6-10 weeks
If your child has these symptoms keep them home and contact your health care provider.

There were two suspected cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in addition to the seven students confirmed, said Bear River Health Department spokeswoman Jill Parker. It was not known if the suspected cases were also North Park students.

"I went to work this morning about 8:00 and got a phone call saying, you know, yeah, Dylan has been confirmed as a positive case of pertussis," Linsey Grosbeck said Thursday, recalling how she found out her son was one of the infected students.

The treatment of whooping cough is simple enough from a medical perspective — a simple dose of antibiotics can kick the cough within days for school-age children — it's how quickly the disease can spread that has health officials concerned.

"It's spread by droplet infections. So that means, to get it, you need to have close enough contact that you have contact with the droplets when people talk and when people cough and things like that," explained Leona Goodsell, also with the Bear River Health Department.

The disease results from a highly contagious bacterial infection and causes prolonged coughing fits and respiratory problems.

For parents like Groesbeck, whose six children are or will be immunized, it's frustrating. She's already spent $400 on testing her kids for this round of whooping cough, and it's nothing new.

"You just look at the impact it has on the community, and the other families that choose to immunize their kids, you know?" Groesbeck said. "These people who choose not to immunize their kids, it doesn't just affect their families and the people close to them, it affects everybody."

The first cases of whooping cough were confirmed last Thursday. Parker said parents should check that their children have had their vaccinations and keep students home who are feeling sick.

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