Health Update: Whooping Cough spreads through school

Serenity Barron
Staff Writer

Webster Groves High School has one confirmed pertussis (whooping cough) case, and the school’s pre-school has a number of pin worm cases.

“Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that is spread through the air by cough, and it is required to be reported to the health department,” said the school’s nurse JoAnn Nester in a letter to students and parents about the pertussis case.

“It’s all over St. Louis County, and in several schools in the area,” said Nester.

“We have an immunization for it, and a lot of people are immunized, but not everyone is immunized,” said Nester.

“We did have one case here, and we may well have more because you have to do a special test to find it,” said Nester. The test includes “a swab of the nose, and the doctor cultures it out to see if its pertussis…To get the test taken, one has to “go in and ask for that test specifically.”

Saint Louis County Department of Health recommends to parents, “If your child does come down with cold symptoms that include a cough, keep them home from school and talk to your child’s doctor without delay.”

“One can’t be excused from school unless one knows its pertussis,” said Nester.

Students who work in the pre-school are probably aware of a few pre-schoolers getting the parasite pinworms.

“They’re not highly communicable, and they don’t cause illness in that you treat them, and they go away,” said Nester. “It would be really rare for someone to come up with pinworms from a preschooler.”

“It’s especially bad with little kids because they don’t do a good job with washing their hands,” continued Nester. “We go to the bathroom and wash our hands, and they may not do that.”

Also preschoolers have their hands on everything making it easy to spread disease.

“Even if you do get it (pin worms), it’s not a big deal…It’s kind of a yuck thing more than anything else,” said Nester. “It’s treatable.”

The one case of pertussis/whopping cough in the school and the highly common parasite in the school have been the only health issues, excluding the common annual flu.

“There are always tummy aches, and there is usually some kind of respiratory cold stuff,” said Nester. “It hasn’t been a bad year, so far.”

 Nester said, “Everybody needs their pertussis and flu shots.”

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