Parents warned of whooping cough case at Cedar Park school

Deer Creek Elementary School in Cedar Park (KXAN Photo)
Deer Creek Elementary School in Cedar Park (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)

CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — Parents at Deer Creek Elementary School in Cedar Park got an email saying a fifth grade student was diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough, last week. Only parents of fifth-graders got the letter, since they’re considered at-risk of catching the highly contagious bacteria.

Angie Gonzalez has a daughter in kindergarten at the school.

“I guess the school will [do everything] to make sure it won’t spread, they’ll take all the precautions.”

Veronica Sopher with the Leander Independent School District says they’re not required to do any extra cleaning, but they do their typical disinfecting in the classroom with industrial chemicals. They say they wipe down all surfaces kids touch, as well as vacuum and dust.

“The only assurance we can provide is that we’re providing a safe learning environment, that we’re following protocols and that we’re highly recommending that you have any concerns you contact your health care provider,” said Sopher.

Gonzalez says parents should pay a little more attention to their kids in the upcoming days.

“So we can also take care of that at home, like make sure kids will wash their hands or watch for any symptoms,” explains Gonzalez.

That way the infection doesn’t continue to spread to other students.

The vaccine for pertussis usually protects against the disease, but it eventually wears off and you can still get whooping cough. That’s why health officials recommend adults get the vaccine every 10 years.

People with whooping cough may have coughing spells in which they can’t catch their breath between coughs. As they catch their breath at the end of a coughing spell, they may loudly gasp — or “whoop” — and vomit or feel like they’re choking.

Parents were asked to contact their healthcare provider immediately for a possible antibiotic treatment if their child is coughing. Once diagnosed, a child would need to stay home from school through five days of antibiotic treatment.

During the first six months of 2015, Williamson County saw 10 confirmed and probable cases of pertussis. So far this year, there are nine confirmed cases and six probable cases.

In Travis County, there have been 34 cases of pertussis reported so far this year. In 2015 there were 104 cases, and in 2014, there were 334 cases of whooping cough.

Health officials say the illness follows a cyclical pattern and becomes worse every three to five years. They say that may be the reason for the relatively low numbers this year.

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