A student at the Community Park School is Princeton has tested positive for whooping cough. Parents were informed of the illness in a letter from school officials this afternoon.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease of the nose, throat and lungs that causes long bursts of coughing. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella Pertussis. Whooping cough can cause violent coughing fits as children choke and gasp for air while making a whooping sound. Adults and older children still get whooping cough, but they may not make the characteristic “whooping” noise when coughing and are often not diagnosed.
Babies need protection from whooping cough because this disease can make them very sick and is very contagious. People with whooping cough usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the bacteria that cause the disease. Many babies who get whooping cough are infected by parents, older siblings, or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.
When babies catch whooping cough, the symptoms can be very serious. Young babies could get pneumonia and many have trouble breathing. About half of babies younger than 1 year of age who get whooping cough end up in the hospital, and a few even die from the disease.
Because the disease can make babies so sick, and they can catch it from anyone around them, they need protection. If you are pregnant, you’ll need the whooping cough vaccine in your third trimester. Surround your baby with vaccinated family members and caregivers and make sure your baby gets all his doses of the whooping cough vaccine according to the CDC’s recommended schedule.