To: Parents/Guardians of students attending Skowhegan Area Middle School
From: Skowhegan Area Middle School and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Subject: Your child’s possible exposure to pertussis at Skowhegan Area Middle School
Date: June 4, 2012
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is investigating reports of pertussis (whooping cough) at Skowhegan Area Middle School.
Pertussis is a communicable disease that is spread from person to person, usually through coughing or sneezing. Pertussis usually begins with cold-like symptoms (sore throat, runny nose, etc.) and often develops into a bad cough after one to two weeks. The cough can last for several weeks or more. Most children in the facility have received the appropriate number of doses of the vaccine against pertussis based on their age, but there is still a chance that vaccinated children can catch the disease.
To prevent the spread of pertussis in your community, we are making the following recommendations:
1. Students and staff members who are symptomatic with a severe cough (coughing to the point of vomiting, lightheadedness) or prolonged cough illness (greater than 2 weeks) should be seen by their healthcare provider and tested for pertussis. They should also be placed on appropriate antibiotics.
2. Those with severe or prolonged cough must be out of school or work for 5 full days, while taking appropriate antibiotic and awaiting test results. They may return if the test for pertussis is negative, or when 5 days of appropriate antibiotic is complete.
3. Students and staff with mild symptoms or cold like symptoms (with a sore throat, runny nose, milder cough, etc.) will be evaluated by the school nurse and testing recommended based on exposure to pertussis. The school nurse and/or school medical director will refer those with mild symptoms to their doctor, as needed, to be tested for pertussis.
4. The test is a nasopharyngeal swab (swab of the back of your nose). It is very important that symptomatic persons stay home from work, day care, school, etc. and refrain from social activity until they have completed 5 days of antibiotic treatment or have a negative test.
5. Family members and other close contacts of those with test confirmed pertussis may need testing and antibiotics as well.
6. If you or your child becomes symptomatic at any time, you/your child should be seen by a healthcare provider. If your provider suspects pertussis, please ask them to call the Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821.
7. All students and staff members who are not up to date on their vaccinations should receive the appropriate dose of pertussis-containing vaccine. You and your family may also need to update pertussis vaccine. Your, or your child’s, doctor will be able to tell you if you or your child are up to date.
If you have further questions, please contact Debbie Lancaster, School Nurse at 474-3339 or the Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821.