Third case of pertussis confirmed in Kennewick

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 4, 2012 

A third case of whooping cough was confirmed Friday at Desert Hills Middle School in Kennewick and health officials are investigating another suspected case at Kamiakin High School.

Lorraine Cooper, spokeswoman for the Kennewick School District, said the district is continuing to work with the Benton-Franklin Health District in getting children with symptoms checked out and limiting the infectious disease's spread.

The two other cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, were confirmed Thursday at Cottonwood Elementary School. Cooper said Cottonwood is a feeder school for Desert Hills and that the middle school feeds students to Kamiakin, indicating that confirmed cases are coming from a specific area of the district.

Cooper said she did not know if the three known cases are all from the same family.

The Washington Department of Health described the situation as a school-based pertussis outbreak in recommendations provided to the district to control the disease's spread.

State officials said students at the three schools who share a classroom or ride the bus with the confirmed cases and show symptoms, be evaluated and treated with antibiotics. They also should not return to school until five days after starting treatment.

It takes five days after beginning to take antibiotics for a patient to no longer be contagious, according to the Department of Health.

Cooper said that while the district is working to make sure that all of the district's students are healthy, the focus is on making sure the disease does not spread to any infants in the area. The disease can be fatal among children under 6 months of age.

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