Mount Vernon ‘hit especially hard’ by whooping cough
September 08, 2012 · Jake Krob
The Mount Vernon School District reports that several Washington Elementary students have tested positive for whooping cough, and last week a sixth-grade student also tested positive. The Lisbon School District had one confirmed case a couple of weeks ago.
In collaboration with Linn County Public Health, a vaccination clinic in the Mount Vernon district will be held in the next few weeks. The clinic will be available for free to students ages 10 to 19, and available at a cost for adult staff as well as students under the age of 10.
The school district reported the recent cases last week, and also detailed how parents will be notified when other cases are reported.
In a letter to families and staff, school nurse Missy Hauser pointed out that there have been hundreds of confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) across the state in recent weeks.
"Linn County currently has the highest number of whooping cough cases in the state and Mount Vernon has been hit especially hard," she wrote.
She reports that whooping cough can be easily spread through coughing and sneezing. The disease starts with cold-like symptoms of a runny nose and irritating cough, and within a couple of weeks the person develops coughing fits. Hauser reports, based on information from the Iowa Department of Health:
"Without treatment, an infected person can spread the disease from the time he or she starts coughing until 21 days after the start of the cough. After five days of treatment with an appropriate antibiotic, an infected person cannot spread the disease."
If more cases are reported, the Mount Vernon district will use the following notification:
• When a student in the elementary school tests positive, a letter from Linn County Public Health will be sent home with each student in the identified child's classroom.
• When a student in the middle school tests positive, a letter will be sent home to the grade level of the identified child.
• When a student in the high school tests positive, an electronic notification will be sent to families of high school students. This notification will only happen with the first positive test for whooping cough; not if the district has multiple students who test positive.