Third whooping cough case confirmed in Riverhead schools

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Middle School in Riverhead.

Another case of whooping cough has been reported in the Riverhead School District, this time in the middle school, according to a post on the district’s website.

In the meantime, the school’s custodians are taking extra precautions to clean the building, according to a letter from superintendent Nancy Carney.

The illness marks the third confirmed case of whooping cough in the Riverhead School District in recent months. In December, a Riverhead High School student was diagnosed with the disease, and in late January a student at Riley Avenue School became ill.

Four students in Southold Town were also diagnosed late last year.

More than 300 cases were reported in Suffolk County in 2011, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health and Human Services, a significant increase from the 54 reported cases in 2010.

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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the disease persists, the traditional symptoms of a high pitched “whooping” cough, vomiting and exhaustion after coughing fits, which last for weeks, may appear. The best way to prevent the disease is immunization, the CDC states on its website.

If you suspect that your child has contracted whooping cough, it is urged that 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.

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