The Whooping Cough, a potential deadly disease, has popped up among students at a Philadelphia high school, according to the city’s department of health.
Philadelphia Department of Public Health issued a health alert Nov. 21 after several cases of whooping cough were reported among students at the same high school.
The number of whooping cough incidents have been increasing in recent years because of waning immunity after both vaccination and natural infection.
The Department received twelve reports of confirmed and probable pertussis (whooping cough) from the school where affected students experienced a prolonged cough illness despite being fully immunized. Clusters of pertussis are also being observed within schools in other jurisdictions.
Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that causes respiratory symptoms, including violent coughs and inspiratory whoop, that last several weeks. The disease is most severe in infants younger than 6 months old, potentially causing complications such as pneumonia, pulmonary hypertension, hypoxia and leading to seizures and death. Among older children, adolescents and adults, complications include pneumonia, fainting and rib fractures from severe coughing.
The disease is highly contagious, spreading through close contact with respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing. However, it is vaccine-preventable. Vaccinated persons experience less severe symptoms, while unvaccinated persons are at the highest risk for complications. Antibiotics can also reduce the duration of symptoms for infected persons.