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Western New Jersey

Contagious whooping cough confirmed in school

Incident reported at Warren County Technical School

WASHINGTON, N.J. - A case of whooping cough, a highly contagious disease, has been confirmed in Warren County Technical School in Washington, N.J.

Parents are being advised not to send their children to school if they have any symptoms of the illness, also called pertussis.

Those symptoms include a long series of coughing followed by a whooping noise, although older children, adults and infants may not develop the whoop.

Severe coughing fits also may immediately be followed by vomiting, turning blue or difficulty catching breath.

The illness begins with cold symptoms and a cough, which becomes much worse over a week or two. The cough often is worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help alleviate it.

Parents of technical school students are being advised to contact a doctor immediately if their children come down with cold symptoms and to tell the doctor that pertussis has been identified at the school.

School officials warn that even children who are up to date on their pertussis vaccine shots may get sick.

Parents are being advised to take children to the doctor for antibiotics if they have been in contact with someone with pertussis. Officials said antibiotics also can help children who already are sick and reduce the chances that they will spread the disease to others.

In a letter to parents, assistant principal Geta Vogel shared state health department recommendations.

They advise keeping infants away from people with a cough and having them promptly seen by a doctor if they develop a cough.

They also recommend talking to doctors about the benefits of vaccination, especially to protect children younger than 1.

Until recently, the pertussis vaccine was only given to children younger than 7. But a new booster vaccine is available for people between 10 and 64 years old.

Anyone with questions of the pertussis is advised to call the state health department at 908-475-7960.

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