Whooping cough outbreak in Montgomery

Whooping cough outbreak in Montgomery

On August 26, in the very first week of the school year, earliest sign of a whooping cough outbreak came to light when the health officials got a call about a newly diagnosed case of a student who had attended a Pennsylvania summer camp.

By the time the second week of school ended, both public and private schools reported 15 cases of whooping cough among students who were in the age group of 9 to 18 years. The condition that was common in all these cases was the Jewish overnight camp, Capital Camps, which is extremely popular with Washington area families. It is located near Waynesboro, Pa., roughly 60 miles from Rockville.

The camp officials reported that one teenage camper's cough was more troubling than they knew and the doctors diagnosed it as whooping cough.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious infection that often spreads through coughing and sneezing. This respiratory system infection is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It's characterized by severe coughing spells, which can sometimes end in a "whooping" sound when the person breathes in.

Montgomery health officials are working long hours to contain the disease from spreading further. They have sent letters to parents at seven Montgomery public schools and the Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, advising them to be on the lookout for whooping cough symptoms.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, begins with cold-like symptoms but eventually turns out to be severe later. Though the cough is treatable with antibiotics, it is most dangerous in infants and those with weak immune systems. The best way to fight this disease is to get the child vaccinated as an infant or get a booster at the age of 11 or 12.

Speaking about vaccination, Cindy Edwards, senior nurse administrator for communicable disease and epidemiology with Montgomery's health department, said, "It may have kept these kids from getting any sicker".

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