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A case of pertussis (whooping cough) has been identified in Bradie Shrum Elementary School and some children and staff may have been exposed either in the classroom or on the bus, according to  a letter sent home yesterday to parents from Bradie Shrum Elementary Principal Brent Minton.

“We want you to be alert for the symptoms of pertussis listed below should they occur in your child,” wrote Minton.

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Minton said parents of the student notified the school as soon as she knew her child had pertussis and the school worked proactively to notify the parents.

Dr. Kalen Carty spoke on WSLM’s Morning Show – Coffee Club – this morning about the sickness.

“The first symptoms of pertussis are similar to the common cold,” she said. “But the good news is that t’s very treatable. It’s a good thing to check your medical records and make sure everyone is up to date on their vaccines — adults and children.”

Symptoms include a low fever.

Dr. Carty said after a week or two, the cough will become worse. “Your child may develop coughing fits, or spasms, followed by vomiting or trouble catching their breath. Sometimes, younger children will have a “whoop” sound after a coughing fit,” she said.

The letter from school stated : “Although your child may appear healthy in between coughing fits, please do NOT send your child to school if he or she has any of the signs and symptoms of pertussis. If you think your child may have pertussis, call your child’s doctor immediately so your child can be treated. Please return the doctor’s note to the school. If your child comes to school with these symptoms, you will be called to take your child home and will need to take him/her to a doctor to be checked for pertussis.”

If your child has symptoms of pertussis, please take the school letter to your child’s doctor as a reference.

Keeping your child up-to-date with pertussis vaccine helps prevent disease, but the Indiana State Department of Health IISDH) has identified cases of pertussis in children who have received all their pertussis shots. Check to make sure all members of your family have been fully vaccinated against pertussis. Your physician or the Washington County Health Department should be able to help you determine if vaccination is needed for your family.

You can find more information about whooping cough on the ISDH website: http://www.in.gov/isdh/files/2012QuickFact_Pertussis.pdf.