Three more whooping cough cases reported on the North Fork

Two students in Mattituck-Cutchogue and another in the Southold school district have contracted whooping cough, Suffolk County health department officials announced in letters addressed to district parents this week.

Health officials are recommending all kindergarten students in Southold Elementary be put on a precautionary dose of antibiotics, even if they are up to date on their vaccination, Southold Elementary School principal Eileen O’Neill said in a letter addressed to parents Tuesday. The health department identified kindergarteners at the school as “close contacts” of the person infected with the disease, also known as pertussis.

One student at Cutchogue Elementary School and one student at Mattituck-Cutchogue Junior Senior High School are also infected with the disease. It was not clear if the students were related to each other, or what grades they are in.

District superintendent James McKenna was out of the office and did not return a call seeking comment.

Whooping cough, which is transported through the air by coughing, is especially dangerous and can be fatal for infants.

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.

Adults and children, however, may develop pertussis even if they are up to date on their vaccination since immunization wanes over the years, according to the county Department of Health and Human Services. If you suspect that your child has contracted whooping cough, it is urged you contact their physician and request your child is tested for the disease using a special nasal/throat swab.

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.

Earlier this month, a Riverhead High School student was diagnosed with the disease. And in November, another student in Southold schools contracted whooping cough.

More than 250 cases have been reported in Suffolk County since June, according to Suffolk County Department of Health Services director Grace Kelly-McGovern. That compares with just 11 cases in the previous six months.

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