Clearfield, PA – A student at the Clearfield Area School District was confirmed to have pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

This is a highly contagious sickness, spread mostly through the air when the infected person sneezes or coughs.

It starts out with symptoms that are similar to a cold or mild cough, but it becomes worse over the next two weeks. Later symptoms usually include a long series of coughing fits followed by a whooping noise.

It’s especially dangerous for young children and babies.

Any sick students in any district should not go to school and should visit the doctor. If you or your loved ones are showing any symptoms, check with your doctor for a diagnosis.

Doctors also recommend getting a pertussis vaccine to prevent the spread of the disease in the future.

Early signs of whooping cough are very minor and might seem just like a normal cold for two to three weeks:

  • Runny nose
  • Low-grade fever
  • Occasional cough
  • Apnea (a pause in breathing, especially in babies)

Later signs of whooping cough are more apparent:

  • Paroxysms (fits) of many, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound
  • Vomiting (throwing up) during or after coughing fits
  • Exhaustion (very tired) after coughing fits
  • Babies with pertussis likely won’t cough at all. Instead, it causes them to stop breathing and turn blue.

Pertussis (whooping cough) is particularly dangerous for babies. If not treated, young children can end up in the hospital, develop pneumonia, have seizures, or even have brain damage.

How is it spread?

  • Whooping cough is highly contagious and spreads easily through the air when a person who has the sickness coughs, sneezes, or breathes.
  • Anyone who has not been vaccinated will likely get sick if exposed to it.
  • A person can spread the disease from the very start of the sickness (when they have mild cold-like symptoms) and for at least two weeks after the heavy coughing starts.
  • Since symptoms can be mild for some people, you can catch whooping cough from people who do not know they have it.

How is it prevented?

  • Doctors recommend that everyone get vaccinated for pertussis with the DTaP shot, which protects against whooping cough, as well as diphtheria and tetanus.
  • Anyone with pertussis (whooping cough) should stay home from school and work so no one else is infected.

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