TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The Tippecanoe County Health Department is investigating an outbreak of pertussis, or whooping cough, throughout the county. Five cases have been confirmed at Harrison High School and one at Battle Ground Middle School, according to the Tippecanoe County School Corporation.
It is not confirmed at Battle Ground Elementary, as previously reported.
According to the health department, Pertussis is a contagious respiratory infection that is passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing or spending a lot of time close to an infected person. Officials say Pertussis can cause serious illness in babies, children, teens and adults.
Symptoms begin five-to-ten days after exposure and begin with cold-like symptoms, including runny nose, mild cough and fever. After one-to-two weeks, the symptoms change to coughing fits consisting of many, rapid coughs sometimes followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound, vomiting during or after coughing fits and exhaustion.
Anyone with these symptoms should see a healthcare provider, and should stay home from school or work.
The best way to prevent pertussis is vaccination. Tippecanoe County Health Department Communicable Disease Nurse Candy Jordan said in every confirmed case in our county so far the person was vaccinated.
Now the state health department is investigating why the vaccine didn't work.
"We are putting all of the disease reports and state is the one that does all the investigations, so right now we are just making sure that people are aware," said Jordan.
According to the state health department, two or more confirmed cases in the same location is cause to investigate.
TSC Nurse Supervisor Krystal Zahn is working to make sure the infection doesn't spread further. The first student was diagnosed at Harrison High School on Nov. 16.
School administrators sent a letter notifying parents then. A second letter is supposed to go out Wednesday informing parents about prevention and symptoms.
"In addition to the sound of it being different, just the aggressive nature of the cough is much more noticeable," said Zahn.