Whooping cough outbreak hits 14 cases; local parents warned to monitor kids

Fayette County’s pertussis outbreak continues to spike: 14 cases of whooping cough have now been reported.

In a Wednesday letter, county health department officials shared the latest figures with parents, saying the rise from 10 to 14 case have occurred in Fayette County public and private middle and high schools since late April.

The schools have included Bryan Station, Henry Clay, Lafayette, Lexington Catholic and Paul Laurence Dunbar high schools. Also on the list: Saints Peter and Paul School and Lexington Christian Academies, since late April, Hollie R. Sands, an epidemiologist at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, said in the letter.

A patient in their 80s has also had the disease.

“As we go into the summer months, it is very important not to ignore the symptoms of pertussis. If your child develops symptoms of pertussis, including a persistent cough, please consult your primary care practitioner to be evaluated for this condition immediately,” Sands said.

This bacterium can cause cold-like symptoms and patients often have a cough that can last weeks to months. The illness can resolve in weeks from onset without antibiotics, Sands said.

Pertussis is more severe in those who are not immunized or are immunocompromised. Others on that list are pregnant women, those with prior lung conditions and infants 12 months of age or younger. Infants younger than 6 months may develop complications and often require hospitalization, she said.

Pertussis spreads through the air. “When an ill person speaks, coughs or sneezes, droplets can come in contact with a healthy person and make them ill. It can take anywhere from 5 to 21 days for symptoms to begin after being in contact with a sick person,” Sands said.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against pertussis, she added.

Sands said if a child develops whooping cough, they should not attend childcare, day or overnight camps, vacation Bible schools, sporting activities including recreation centers and gyms, or other large gatherings of people until after five days of antibiotic treatment.

The Herald-Leader reported Wednesday that some of the lowest vaccination rates for the booster Tdap are at Fayette County private schools, the latest vaccination data shows.