Whooping cough continues to spread in Henderson County - FOX Carolina 21

Whooping cough continues to spread in Henderson County

Posted: Updated:
(Courtesy of AP) (Courtesy of AP)

Henderson County officials said the number of confirmed whooping cases in the county has grown to 14.

The cases were initially reported in schools but have now been confirmed elsewhere in the community.

Approximately 1,000 people have been in close contact with people suffering from pertussis, officials said.

Health officials say they expect more people to come down with the illness before the outbreak is over. "We're expecting to have more cases and at some point that will die down," said Dr. Diana Curran, Medical Director for Henderson County Department of Public Health.

Molly McGowan Gorsuch, a spokesperson for the school district, said the initial eight students who tested positive for pertussis attend Hillandale Elementary, Clear Creek Elementary, Bruce Drysdale Elementary, Rugby Middle, and East Henderson High schools.

Gorsuch said officials have sent school-wide notifications to parents of students in affected schools, asked for personal phone calls be sent from Health Department nurses to the parents of students in close contact, and a district-wide call from the school system to all parents on Monday, all of which are required by guidelines and recommendations from the NC Department of Health Communicable Disease Center.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services said pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by bacteria. The disease is spread person to person, primarily through coughing and sneezing.

Symptoms can begin up to 21 days after exposure and can appear to be common cold at first.

People suffering from pertussis may experience uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe.

Health officials said vaccinations can help prevent pertussis but anyone can get it. People who have been vaccinated will experience milder symptoms. The disease is especially dangerous for infants, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.

School officials are urging people who are sick to stay home until they have seen a doctor. 

"Know that it's okay to take a sick day if you are truly sick. It's okay to take that time to get healthy so we can ensure the health and safety of each and everyone of our students," said Dr. John Bryant, Associate Superintendent for Henderson County Schools.

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