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Case of pertussis at Project Excel

Nov. 21, 2017

There has been a probable case of pertusiss at the Project Excel program.

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory illness that is spread through the air by
cough from an infected individual. A person with Pertussis is infectious for 21 days from the
start of the cough, or until he or she has been on five full days of appropriate antibiotic therapy.
All adults and children over 10 years of age should be vaccinated with one dose of Tdap vaccine
(Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis). Children and adults may be susceptible and still develop
Pertussis even if they are up-to-date with their vaccinations as immunity to Pertussis wanes over
the years. Pertussis illness is particularly dangerous and can be fatal to infants who are not fully
immunized. Pertussis in older children and adults may present with milder symptoms,
particularly if previously immunized.

There are 3 stages of Pertussis infection:

- Stage 1: Mild upper respiratory symptoms, slight cough, possible low-grade fever, lasts 2 weeks
mimics a cold, allergies). The cough gradually becomes more severe.

- Stage 2: Spasmodic coughing episodes sometimes followed by long whooping sounds,
vomiting/gagging, facial color changes, difficulty breathing and exhaustion after coughing
episodes. Episodes occur more frequently at night. The person may not appear ill between
attacks. This stage lasts up to 6 weeks.

- Stage 3: Gradual recovery, coughing episodes may persist for weeks to months. Coughing
episodes may return with other respiratory infections or exercise.

Once a susceptible individual is exposed to pertussis, it may take up to 21 days for symptoms to
develop; rarely, it may be as long as 42 days. The incubation period is usually 7-10 days. If you
observe these symptoms in your child/self, contact your health care provider and request that
your child/you be tested for Pertussis with a special nasal-throat swab. This test can be
performed in the doctor's office or hospital emergency room (please call in advance to advise
medical staff of the child's/your respiratory symptoms). Blood testing is not confirmatory for this
disease. Early treatment, with the appropriate antibiotic, for the symptomatic individual, his/her
asymptomatic (not currently showing symptoms) family and close contacts, will eliminate
disease transmission and may reduce disease severity.

Please note: If your physician suspects a diagnosis of pertussis, orders testing and prescribes
antibiotics, you/ child should remain home until you/ they have completed at least five days of
their antibiotic therapy. You may also visit the CDC website at for more
information about pertussis.

Please call your health care provider if you have any questions