Case of Whooping Cough Reported at Wallingford School

Wallingford officials are urging parents and students to be on the alert after a middle school student came down with whooping cough and was pulled from school, according to a spokesperson for the town health department.

A student at Moran Middle School developed pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, at the start of the academic year and was taken out of school as soon as he was diagnosed, said Wallingford Health Department spokesperson Eloise Hazelwood.

The student has been treated with antibiotics and has fully recovered, but the health department sent a precautionary letter to parents on Wednesday to inform them of the signs and symptoms of whooping cough, the school district said.

"There is minimal risk to you if you are current in your vaccinations for pertussis," the letter says.

Hazelwood said the letter includes information on how to obtain low-cost vaccines and encourages parents and students to check their immunization statuses.

According to Hazelwood, the infected student has been on antibiotics for at least seven days and has passed the incubation period. Hazelwood said that by now, school officials would know if other cases had developed.

The school system also distributed a fact sheet containing basic information on the disease and how to protect against an infection.

Pertussis is a very contagious bacterial infection that affects the upper respiratory system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease is spread by direct contact when an infected person coughs and sneezes.

Symptoms typically develop between five and 10 days of infection, but may not show up for as long as three weeks, according to the CDC. Cold-like symptoms, including sneezing, a fever and a runny nose, can develop into a severe cough and vomiting.

The name “whooping cough” derives from a high-pitched sound that sometimes accompanies coughing fits. Whooping cough is most dangerous to babies, who can experience apnea and stop breathing, the CDC says.

According to the CDC's 2013 surveillance report, 57 cases of whooping cough were reported in Connecticut last year.

Vaccines are the most effective means of preventing infection.

Parents are invited to raise questions and concerns at an open forum tomorrow night. The meeting will take in the Moran auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, according to the letter.

Wallingford Public Schools medical consultant Dr. Carlos Valentin and nursing coordinator Kathleen Neelon will be present alongside Hazelwood.

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