Beech Grove, Mooresville schools see whooping cough

BEECH GROVE, Ind. (WISH) – A health warning for some Central Indiana students. School leaders in Mooresville and Beech Grove say they’re notifying parents after a child in each district is diagnosed with pertussis, or whooping cough. In Mooresville, a case was found in Northwood Elementary School. In Beech Grove, the diagnosis came from Central Elemetnary School.

“Hopefully the vaccinations cover it,” mother Jackie Michael said.

Pertussis is a familiar disease for her. Her husband fought it not too long ago. She also has a daughter at Central Elementary School.

“It’s a bit of a concern. I know he had it so bad he couldn’t work,” Michael said.

But Assistant Superintendent Dr. Tom Keeley says the student is no longer in school and the district worked quickly to notify everyone.

“We kind of had a game plan within a couple of hours and sent out an alert now to all our parents,” Keeley said.

The district also used social media pages to spread the news and a letter went home with students. In Mooresville, notices were received Tuesday.

“I’ll watch her, but just like any other sickness anytime you notice anything you look a little closer,” Michael said.

And while it’s clear the case came from Central Elementary, the school isn’t identifying the child’s bus or classroom for privacy reasons. They also won’t say if the child is up-to-date on vaccinations, but did point out that the vaccinations are not a guarantee.

“We likened it to the flu vaccine. you get the flu vaccine, but could you still get the flu? There are different strains and it’s potential. It can happen,” Keeley said.

So teachers and parents here will be keeping a close eye on their pupils for the early signs of pertussis.

“You get your child vaccinated and then all of a sudden, it might not work, it’s kinda scary,” Michael said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pertussis is a respiratory illness spread from person-to-person, often through sneezing or coughing near others. Symptoms often take seven to 10 days to develop. Those symptoms are similar to a cold with a mild cough or fever. After a week or two, severe coughing and even coughing fits begin. There are vaccines available for infants, children and adults to help prevent against pertussis.

The Indiana State Department of Health says there has not been a whooping cough death in the Indiana since 2010. That year two deaths were reported.

Pertussis cases per year in Indiana:

  • 2008: 271
  • 2009: 392
  • 2010: 744
  • 2011: 367
  • 2012: 441
  • 2013: 621
  • 2014: 231 (so far)

For more on pertussis, read this fact sheet provided by the Indiana State Department of Health.

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