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The Evanston Health Department reports that a student at Evanston Township High School has been diagnosed with and treated for whooping cough.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly infectious and usually mild illness that is easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing and may last for several months.

Health Director Evonda Thomas Smith says symptoms of pertussis usually appear 5-10 days after exposure, but can take as long as 21 days to appear. It is possible for people to be infected with pertussis even if they have been vaccinated against it.

The initial symptoms of pertussis are similar to those of the common cold: runny nose, low-grade fever and a mild occasional cough, which can become severe and spasmodic – with a distinctive “whooping” sound – and can progress to vomiting between bouts of coughing.

Patients with pertussis should be isolated from day care, school, work, and public gatherings until at least five days after the start of appropriate antibiotic therapy to limit further transmission.

Most people recover completely from pertussis, but complications from the disease can be severe in high-risk groups, especially infants under one year, and children who have not been fully immunized against the disease or children with weakened immune systems.

Since students may have been exposed to pertussis, parents should remain alert for symptoms.

If your child develops symptoms, the health director says, it is important that you contact your doctor immediately for testing and antibiotic treatment as appropriate.

In addition, frequent hand washing and respiratory hygiene — covering your cough, coughing into tissues and disposing of tissues promptly — are important practices that help to limit the spread of infection.

For more information, contact the ETHS Health Service Office at 847-424-7260 or the Evanston Health Department at 847-866-2962.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Why are they announcing this?

    I'm not clear on why the health department is announcing this; pertussis is not rare or particularly dangerous.  It is gross though.  I had it when I was in high school, and nobody told me to stay home.  I was sick for about four months.

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