The Alabama Department of Public Health’s Immunization Division is investigating an outbreak of six laboratory-confirmed cases of pertussis at multiple schools in Chambers County.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory and reportable disease in Alabama, according to the ADPH.
The names of the schools impacted by the outbreak weren’t immediately available.
“Our concern is that children who have been vaccinated have contracted the disease,” Dr. Karen Landers, assistant state health officer with ADPH said in a statement. “We also want to make sure that we take all the necessary steps to follow up fully with those who have been exposed and educate those who may have come in contact with a person currently ill with the disease.”
According to ADPH, several steps are currently being taken to ensure no further students are affected.
Pertussis begins with symptoms such as a runny nose, low-grade fever and cough.
The symptoms of the illness progress, in about a week or two, to violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. The fits of coughs causes the sufferer to take deep breaths resulting in a “whooping” sound.
In cooperation with the Chambers County School District, state immunization staff is collecting specimens for testing and contacting parents of children who attend schools where exposure has occurred by phone. Information on the outbreak is also being shared through school text blasts.
According to ADPH, parents who are concerned that their children may be exhibiting symptoms should consult their child’s primary physician to be tested for pertussis.
“Although this outbreak of pertussis is affecting a specific age range, residents should be aware that this disease can affect people of all ages,” Landers said. “Pertussis is an extremely serious disease, even deadly, for babies less than a year old. The best way to protect against pertussis is by getting vaccinated.”
For more information on signs and symptoms of pertussis, or vaccination information, please visit www.adph.org/immunization.