More than half a dozen cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have been confirmed in the Rockford area in the last couple of weeks.
The Winnebago County Health Department said it had identified six confirmed cases since the middle of October. Harlem School District officials confirmed that two of its students – one at Machesney Park Elementary and one at the Harlem High School 9th Grade Campus – were among the cases.
Rockford Public Schools said it had one student from RESA Middle School confirmed to have whooping cough. The district said it sent letters home with students at the school last Friday, telling parents of the case. The letter encouraged parents to look for symptoms of the illness. It also encouraged them to contact their child’s school nurse, the district’s health services office, or the Winnebago County Health Department if they had concerns.
Rockton School District said it had one case at Rockton Grade School. The school’s principal said it also sent parents information on the case and the illness, through a letter and digitally.
The health department said another case was the parent of the Machesney Park Elementary student. The department said the sixth confirmed case in the county was a one year old. The infant case was reportedly in Rockton.
The department also said, at this time, no link between the cases has been identified, except between the parent and child at Machesney Park Elementary.
The Boone County Health Department said it had one confirmed pertussis case in the time period. The department said the person was not associated with a school.
The Winnebago County Health Department provided the following important facts about the disease and its recommendations:
Early symptoms of Pertussis can last for 1 to 2 weeks and usually include:
- Runny nose
- Low‐grade fever
- Mild, occasional cough
- Apnea – a pause in breathing (in babies)
After 1 to 2 weeks and as the disease progresses, symptoms may include:
- Fits of many rapid coughs followed by a high‐pitched “whoop” sound
- Vomiting (throwing up) during or after coughing fits
- Exhaustion (very tired) after coughing fits
If you notice any of these symptoms in you or your child:
- Contact your physician (primary care provider)
- Stay home from work or school
- Notify school or work
To reduce the spread of pertussis:
- Wash your hands often, especially after coughing and sneezing.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue, your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Dispose of used tissues properly.