Tonasket School District

Health Announcement

December 13th, 2018

Dear Parent/Guardian:

This letter is a health notification to make you aware that a student in Tonasket School District has been diagnosed with Pertussis (also known as whooping cough). Administrators and the School Nurse are working closely with the Okanogan Public Health District to control the spread of Pertussis in your child’s school.

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease spread through droplets coughed or sneezed into the air and/or onto surfaces. Pertussis starts with a cough which becomes much worse over 1-2 weeks. Coughing sounds like a long series of rapid coughs “coughing fits” followed by a whooping or “air-sucking” noise. Very young infants and adults may not develop the “whoop”. There is generally no or only a slight fever. People with Pertussis may cough followed by vomiting, turning blue or difficulty catching their breath. The cough is often worse at night.

If your child has been around someone with Pertussis, they may become sick with Pertussis as well. This is especially true when the child has not received all the Pertussis vaccine shots (DTaP or Tdap). Sometimes even if a child’s shots are up-to-date, they may still get Pertussis.

If your child is already sick, giving antibiotics early can help your child get well faster and lower the chances of spreading the disease to others. If your child has been in contact with someone with Pertussis, antibiotics may prevent them from becoming ill.

Please be aware and follow these recommendations.

1. Watch for symptoms over the next several weeks. If your child comes down with cold-like symptoms that include a cough, please keep your child at home and away from others. Talk with your child’s doctor without delay and tell the doctor that there are Pertussis case(s) at your child’s school. Your doctor may want the ill person to wear a mask before entering the clinic.

2. Infants under one year old, especially those under six months, are most likely to have severe symptoms if they develop Pertussis. When possible, young infants should be kept away from people with a cough. Infants with any coughing illness should be seen by their doctor.

3. To protect newborns who cannot be vaccinated against Pertussis and to protect your family, you and all eligible family members should be vaccinated. Pertussis-containing vaccine is available for children starting at 2 months old. Check vaccination records or call your child’s doctor to see if everyone is protected. The Pertussis vaccines are available at your child’s medical clinic.

4. The following is the recommended Pertussis Vaccine Schedule:

Babies need 4 DTaP vaccines • 2 months • 4 months • 6 months • 15 - 18 months

  • THEN one more at 4 - 6 years
  • Older children need the Tdap booster. Children age 11 and older need a booster before entry into 6th grade. If your child is not fully vaccinated with pertussis, 1 dose of Tdap is recommended as part of the catch-up series. (Fully vaccinated is defined as 5 doses of DTaP or 4 doses of DTaP if the fourth dose was administered on or after the fourth birthday).
  • Because immunity from Pertussis vaccine or disease wears off, Pertussis-containing vaccine is also available for adults.

It is cold and flu season and we are starting to see the typical variety of illnesses, we felt it is important to make you aware of a positive pertussis case in our school. If you have further concerns regarding Pertussis or questions on vaccinations contact your doctor. More information about Pertussis is available on the Centers for Disease Control website: