By News-Register staff • 

Student diagnosed with whooping cough; district warns to take precautions

A student in a McMinnville School District school was diagnosed with whooping cough, prompting the district and Yamhill County Public Health to send a letter home today  warning parents to take precautions.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, causes cold-like symptoms followed by a severe, long-lasting cough characterized by a gasping, whooping sound that gives the disease its name. Children, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.

It spreads easily by contact between people. But it's also easy to prevent by frequently washing your hands with soap and water, staying home when ill, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and, especially, by being vaccinated.

"The most effective way to prevent pertussis is for children, teens and adults to by fully up to date on vaccines," says the letter from William Koenig, public health officer with the county.

The Tdap vaccine greatly reduces the risk of getting diphtheria and tetanus as well as pertussis. The vaccine is given in childhood and needs to be updated in adults.

All the classmates of the infected students had be vaccinated, Superintendent Maryalice Russell said.

When she told the school board about the case of whooping cough Monday night, two doctors on the board, Scott Schieber and Scott Gibson, also emphasized the importance of current immunizations.

"It's a preventable disease that can be serious, especially in the young," Gibson said. "Vaccinations have great value."

Gibson expressed grave concern about parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated. That puts both their children and the community at risk, he said.

He said he's pleased that the McMinnville district has a higher rate of vaccinations than many other districts.



What school? Is it a secret?

David Bates

I had whooping cough last winter. I never really felt "sick," but the cough is so relentless and powerful that it literally tears your body apart. It's horrible, and it can go on for months. I had to get X-rays to see if I'd broken ribs (amazingly, I hadn't). If your kids haven't been vaccinated, DO IT NOW.

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