UNION COUNTY — Persons who attended or visited Union County High School during a 25-day period in the month of November are being advised by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to take precautions following the discovery of a case of whooping cough at the school.
Union County School District Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall released the following letter sent Dec. 1 by Matthew Petrofus, Regional Medical Director, Upstate Public Health Region, SC DHEC, to the parents and guardians of UCHS students.
A case of whooping cough has been identified at Union County High School.
Anyone who attended or visited Union County High between the dates of November 5-November 30, 2015, may have been exposed to whooping cough.
Whooping cough is a contagious disease that affects the nose, throat, windpipe, and lungs. It spreads easily by coughing or sneezing. People with whooping cough may have coughing fits. They might throw up after coughing. The severe cough can last for weeks or months. Babies may have spells when they stop breathing.
Whooping cough can be dangerous for babies and for people with lung diseases or weakened immune systems. Family members with whooping cough can spread it to babies.
Recommendations from DHEC
1. If any of the following apply to the person who was exposed to whooping cough, contact your healthcare provider right away:
• She is a woman who is pregnant, or
• He or she is an infant younger than 12 months old, or
• He or she has a weakened immune system, or
• He or she has a severe lung disease, or
• He or she lives with an infant under 12 months old, with a pregnant woman, or with someone with severe lung disease or a weakened immune system.
• Show this letter to your healthcare provider. Ask him or her about antibiotics to protect the exposed person from getting whooping cough.
2. If the exposed person has a cough now, or starts coughing in the next 3 weeks, the coughing person should:
• Stay home from group activities such as work, school, sports or playgroups, church, etc. The coughing person may be contagious with whooping cough.
• Make an appointment with a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Tell the provider about the cough and about the possible exposure to whooping cough.
• Bring this letter with you to your appointment.
• If your healthcare provider says that you or your child has whooping cough the following are recommended to prevent spread from the person with whooping cough:
o Stay home from work, school, childcare, until antibiotics have been taken for at least 5 days.
o Do not go to other activities, such as sports or playgroups, shopping, concerts, etc. during that time.
o Avoid having visitors during the first 5 days of antibiotics.
o Be sure that the person with whooping cough covers his/her mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing. The used tissue should be thrown away in the waste basket. Most important, the coughing person should wash his or her hands often.
o Ask your healthcare provider for a note for school, childcare or work stating that you or your child has whooping cough. When your healthcare provider says that you or your child can no longer spread the infection, please ask them for a note stating that it’s okay to return to work, school, childcare, and other activities.
If you have any questions, please contact the Upstate Region Public Health Epidemiology Office at 864-227-5947.
Woodall released the following statement Wednesday morning concerning the steps the school district is taking in response to the situation.
“Union County Schools is working with DHEC to make students and their families aware of the whooping cough exposure. We have publicized DHEC’s recommendations for care, “Woodall said. “Parents may contact school nurses to discuss questions and concerns.”
This story was submitted by Union County School District Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall.