BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL — Five cases of pertussis have been associated with Viewmont High School in the past four months, causing concern for health officials.
Parents of students at the school were notified earlier this week, to warn them and to encourage that students be immunized, said Davis County Health Department deputy director Brian Hatch.
The five are part of 24 cases health providers have seen in the county this year. No one has been hospitalized from the outbreak, Hatch said.
The Viewmont cases began in February, but Hatch said there have been no more than two cases at the school in any month since the first one was reported.
Still, anytime there is a “clustering effect,” that is, cases of a disease repeating in the same location, health officials want to get the word out, Hatch said.
“We want to make sure the public knows and is doing their due diligence,” in getting their children vaccinated and keeping children home who are already ill.
“If you’re sick, stay home,” Hatch said.
She added that vaccinations are the most effective way to keep from getting these illnesses.”
Pertussis, or “whooping cough,” begins with cold-like symptoms, runny nose, sneezing, fever and the cough, which in young children can become severe, interfering with their oxygen intake, Hatch said. The result is often a “whooping,” sound in the cough. The disease can lead to death, especially in infants, Hatch said.
In children and adults, the cough can be prolonged, lasting up to 10 weeks.
Hatch encourages anyone exhibiting the symptoms to get to their health care provider because pertussis is very contagious.
He said the letter sent to the parents of Viewmont students will not only protect the students, but the parents and siblings of those students.
Even though the number of cases is small and the outbreak sporadic, Hatch said the health department wanted to make sure everyone was aware of it. He said the students who were ill are all recovering.