Suffolk Officials Warn of Whooping Cough Outbreak

Suffolk County health officials said 13 students in the Smithtown School district have been diagnosed with pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

The Suffolk County health department has alerted area pediatricians and given advice to school officials on how to control the breakout.

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that causes a powerful and uncontrollable cough that can last several weeks or months. It begins with cold-like symptoms or a dry cough.

The schools involved include St. James Elementary School, Tacken Elementary School and Nesaquake Middle School. All of the infected students have been treated, officials said.

“Pertussis has been common in the community in recent years, mostly among adults, in whom immunity has waned,” said Suffolk Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken. “While most individuals will recover fully from pertussis, we are concerned about infants who have not received full immunization and to whom pertussis is particularly dangerous and can be fatal.”

He suggests that adults who are in close contact with infants and who have not previously received immunization should receive a dose of Tdap immunization, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis.

Officials recommend children receive the DtaP vaccination. The vaccine is given at two, four, six and 15 to 18 months of age and between four and six years of age.

Parents and physicians who have questions about pertussis may contact the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ Division of Public Health at 631-853-3055.

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