Whooping cough case confirmed at Riverhead High School

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead High School, where someone was recently diagnosed with whooping cough.

There is a confirmed case of whooping cough at Riverhead High School, school officials announced Friday morning.

School officials said the case involves a student who does not have siblings.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial infection that should be treated with antibiotics, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

“Our  custodial staff and transportation staff are taking extra measures in disinfecting classrooms and busses district wide,” Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney said in an email. “Whooping cough is an airborne disease, but at this time of year, these measures are helpful all around in preventing the spreading of germs.”

Riverhead High School Principal David Wicks sent a phone call to parents and a letter is posted on the district’s website asking parents to take their child to a doctor if he or she displays symptoms of the infection.

Early symptoms of whooping cough are a mild cough, a runny nose and a low fever, according to the Center for Disease control. As the disease persists the traditional symptoms of a high pitched “whooping” cough, vomiting and exhaustion after coughing fits may appear. Coughing fits may persist for weeks. The best way to prevent the disease is immunization, the CDC states on its website.

Those suffering from whooping cough are asked to stay home until he or she has completed five days of antibiotic treatment, according to the county health department.

Suffolk County has seen an increase of whooping cough cases in recent months with 205 cases since June, according to Newsday. In November, a student in the nearby Southold School District was diagnosed with the disease.

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