We have just been notified of a case of pertussis (whooping cough) in your child’s Boy Scout Troop. Pertussis is a highly contagious illness that begins with mild, cold-like symptoms including cough and runny nose. These first symptoms typically appear 7-10 days after a person is exposed. The cough typically worsens over the following weeks and becomes spasmodic. The cough may be followed by a “whooping” sound. The spasms of cough may be followed by vomiting. Some persons with pertussis may have very mild symptoms (mild cough with no other symptoms) and may not realize that they are sick or contagious. Pertussis is most severe in infants and can cause death.
Pertussis is spread through coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread by touching a tissue or sharing a cup used by someone with pertussis.
Pertussis is treated with an antibiotic (erythromycin). Students who are prescribed antibiotics for suspected pertussis can return to school following the fifth day of treatment. Without antibiotics, a person with pertussis is considered to be contagious for three weeks. It is important that ill students stay at home away from others (especially infants and young children).
Pertussis vaccine is administered in combination with diphtheria and tetanus vaccine (DTaP) in a five-dose series and protects children against whooping cough. Please check with your health care provider to make sure your child’s shots are up-to-date. If you have any questions, please contact your family doctor.
Please watch your child for any symptoms of pertussis (mild, cold-like symptoms) over the next several weeks. If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, please notify your primary care physician as soon as possible.
BSA Troop 365