MANCELONA — Health officials confirmed a case of whooping cough in an elementary school student at a K-12 public charter school in Mancelona.
Preventative antibiotic treatment was recommended for classmates of the North Central Academy student. Heath department letters additionally advised parents to make sure vaccinations are current and watch for symptoms like runny nose, mild fever and coughing.
The highly contagious disease looks like a cold but can quickly progress into a serious illness.
“We’ve never had a case of it here and wanted to get the word out,” said Martie Leitow, North Central Academy’s administrative assistant.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, crops up periodically and is easily treated, but it can have serious impacts on infants and young children. The disease is most dangerous to babies under three months old, according to the Center of Disease Control website.
“Especially with infants and young children — the coughing spasms can interfere with eating, drinking and possibly breathing,” said Dan Reynolds, Health Department of Northwest Michigan’s supervisor of communications and administrative services.
Pertussis, is part of the five-shot DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine recommended for children at two, four, six and fifteen months of age, with the fifth dose between ages four and six years old. Children over 11 get booster shots, and, as of last April, the CDC recommended pregnant women get a DTaP shot in their third trimester.
Public health departments report a “worrisome” increase in cases of pertussis, with 847 of Michigan cases reported in 2012 — a 21 percent increase over 2011. A Michigan infant died of pertussis in 2012, according to the state’s health department website.
Schools with unvaccinated children are “particularly vulnerable,” Reynolds said, and there are plenty of communicable diseases floating around “this time of year.”
The department, which covers Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties, sends out periodic reminders as “vaccination is the best prevention,” Reynolds added.