Confirmed pertussis case at Frederick Douglass High School

Posted at 8:42 AM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 17:23:33-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department has notified parents of a confirmed case of pertussis, or whooping cough, at Frederick Douglass High School.

This is the 12th confirmed case in Lexington in 2019, according to LFCHD. They had also confirmed another case in October of this year.

"It's something that will spread in the winter, as people are indoors there's a shared close contact," said Kevin Hall with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department. "It's spread through coughing, sneezing, and those droplets in the air. So, you want to make sure you're not only getting the vaccine, but you're covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands frequently."

The health department has recommended preventative antibiotics for high-risk students who may have been exposed to pertussis. This includes students who have chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems.

"We're in the heart of the school year, you're looking at people who are involved in extracurricular activities so kids are in band, theater, sports and they're traveling all across the state," Hall said. "So, the people really need to make sure that they are taking the steps because this shouldn't just be, this isn't something that would just be limited to Lexington."

This also includes students who live in a home with a family member that has a chronic illness or weakened immune system, an infant or a pregnant woman.

Here are the early symptoms of pertussis:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Low grade fever
  • Coughing

"If you aren't sure, talk to your providers, they can check your records, and it's better to be safe than sorry on this one because it is something that can wipe you out throughout the entire month," said Hall. "It's not something you want, it's not something you wish on anyone."

The health department said that the cough usually gets worst and turns in to uncontrollable, sometimes violent, coughing after a week or so.

Hall also said that it is important to get the booster because the vaccine will weaken over time.