Whooping cough outbreak in Cache County

An outbreak of pertussis, or whooping cough, has caused several schools to close their doors Friday in Cache County. Four cases have been confirmed and the Bear River Health Department says children attending Thomas Edison South Charter School, Spring Creek Middle School and Heritage Elementary School in Nibley should stay home today. The health department is doing all it can to prevent the disease from spreading further. Department Director Lloyd Berentzen says whooping cough is highly contagious and it is one of the most commonly occurring vaccine preventable diseases in the United States. “I think everybody has different reasons for the choices that they make,” Berentzen explains. “One of the problems that we run into is the more individuals choose not to vaccinate, the more what we call our community immunity starts to wane or go down. “That’s what allows these types of diseases start to crop into the community. Certainly from our stand point we would hope people would start getting their children vaccinated.” The department’s medical director, Dr. Ed Redd, says children attending Thomas Edison South Charter School, Spring Creek Middle School and Heritage Elementary School in Nibley should stay home and contact their health care provider. “What we don’t know is that there may be more children in any of these schools, and maybe other schools for that matter, that may have pertussis,” Redd says. “There may be a lot of people who have not been vaccinated who really are at significant risk of getting this disease and taking it home to their families by going to school. “So really we’re excluding these children from school to protect the children themselves but also protect the children’s families and other families throughout the community. Really it’s a community protection effort.” Berentzen says the department hopes to aggressively get ahead of these confirmed cases so that it can effectively reduce the spread of the disease.

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