December 2, 2006
State public health director issues guidance to help limit and control pertussis outbreaks in schools
Outbreaks being seen among teens in secondary schools
SPRINGFIELD, Ill – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, issued today recommendations to limit transmission and control pertussis (whooping cough) outbreaks in Illinois secondary schools. More than 470 cases of pertussis have been reported in Illinois this year with a significant portion of these occurring among secondary school students, including the most recent outbreak involving 30 students at New Trier High School.
“To help limit the spread of pertussis in schools, it’s important that all school staff, including those who lead extracurricular activities requiring mandatory attendance, such as coaches and band directors, understand the importance of referring students with a persistent cough to the school nurse, and the need to exclude students suspected of having pertussis,” said Dr. Whitaker.
If students with pertussis are not properly treated and restricted from extracurricular activities, they may spread pertussis to students at other schools, thereby creating the potential for new outbreaks. While pertussis is not life threatening to most healthy secondary school students, this group may be in contact with younger children, infants, and children with chronic illnesses who are at higher risk of developing serious complications of pertussis, including pneumonia, seizures, and death. Pertussis outbreaks in schools, in which numerous students are ill, often last for many months, and can be extremely disruptive to academic, athletic, and extracurricular activities.
Measures to help schools limit the impact of pertussis on schools and communities include:
of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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