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Boulder High School Student Diagnosed With Whooping Cough

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) - A student who attends Boulder High School was recently diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Pertussis is a contagious illness that is spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs, and then another individual breathes in the bacteria.

Boulder High School
(credit: CBS)

According to health officials, symptoms of whooping cough usually develop seven to 10 days after exposure, but they can develop from four to 21 days after exposure. Someone with pertussis may look and feel fine between coughing episodes and may not have a fever.

Symptoms of pertussis may include:

  • Cold-like symptoms in the first week of illness (i.e. runny nose, sore throat etc.)
  • Severe coughing starting in the second week of illness and continuing for up to three months
  • Gagging or vomiting after coughing episodes
  • Coughing at night

Health officials warn that fully immunized individuals can still become ill from pertussis. Most often, the illness affects older children and adults because the immunity they gained from childhood immunizations decreases over time.

Whooping Cough
(credit: CBS)

To keep your family free from pertussis, Boulder County Public Health recommends:

  1.  Consulting with your health care provider if you feel your student is developing symptoms of pertussis. If your student has pertussis, he/she will need to remain at home until five (5) full days of antibiotic treatment have been completed.
  2.  Reviewing your student's immunization record with your health care provider to make sure he/she is up-to-date with all recommended vaccinations.
  3.  Make an appointment for a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine for anyone in your household over ten years of age to protect against the illness in the future. Pertussis is now commonly included in the routine "tetanus booster" vaccination.

In younger children pertussis can be very severe, including hospitalization, seizures, long-term neurological problems, and death. The risk of disease is especially high for infants who are not yet old enough to complete the primary series of four doses of pertussis vaccine.

For more information, visit BoulderCountyShots.org. You can also reach the Boulder County Public Health Communicable Disease Control Program at
303-413-7523.

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