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Dec 4, 2013 2:25 PM by Tonya LaCoste

Whooping Cough at Eunice School; Cases in state more than double

It's been almost two weeks since the last case of Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, has been reported at Central Middle School in Eunice. Fewer than five case were reported at the school, according to Department of Health and Hospitals Public Information Officer Ken Pastorick. For confidentiality reasons, he can't release the exact number of cases.

Parents were notified of the outbreak in mid-November and were encouraged to immunize themselves and their children. Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease and is spread by coughing and sneezing while in close contact with others, according to the Louisiana DHH website. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes symptoms of pertussis as "uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe." The need to take deep breaths after a coughing fit results in a whooping sound, which is why the disease is nicknamed whooping cough.

Pastorick advises parents to have their children's vaccinations up to date. The number of Pertussis cases in the state has more than doubled since last year. In 2012, DHH reports 74 cases, and this year so far 195 cases have been reported. Whooping cough can be fatal, especially in babies younger than one. The most effective way to prevent Pertussis in infants is the DTaP vaccine, and the recommended protection for pre-teens and adults is the Tdap vaccine, Pastorick said.

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