Case of whooping cough confirmed at Clemson Elementary - FOX Carolina 21

Case of whooping cough confirmed at Clemson Elementary

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Letter sent to parents from DHEC. (Source: Pickens Co. School District) Letter sent to parents from DHEC. (Source: Pickens Co. School District)
(Source: Associated Press) (Source: Associated Press)
CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Clemson Elementary notified parents about a confirmed case of pertussis, or whooping cough, at the school on Tuesday, according to a press release from the Pickens County School District.

Students may have been exposed to the disease from Aug. 20 to 30 at the school, according to health officials.

Pertussis is a very contagious respiratory disease caused by bacteria. It is known for uncontrollable coughing and the "whooping" sound that people make when trying to take a deep breath between coughing fits.

South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) issued an advisory in August reminding everyone about the pertussis vaccine. DHEC says it is available beginning at two months old and is effective 85% of the time.  Children ages 11 and older need a booster dose. Starting with the 2013-2014 school year, all students in South Carolina must receive the vaccine before entering 7th grade.

"We feel very strongly that this is a vaccine that is effective and good at preventing illnesses of this sort. We really hope parents will heed this advice and get the vaccine," said DHEC Public Information Director Jim Beasley.

According to the CDC, DTaP is a vaccine that guards against diphtheria (D), tetanus (T) and pertussis (P).  DTaP is given to children under age seven in a five-dose series. Tdap is the name of the vaccine given to older children (preferably ages 11-12) and adults.  The CDC says the upper-case letters mean there is a full-strength dose for that disease in the vaccine, while the lower-cases letters mean the vaccine contains a reduced dose for that disease. The "a" in both abbreviations stands for "acellular", which means "the pertussis component contains only a part of the pertussis organism."

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