Whooping Cough Cases Hit Beatrice

By: Bill Schammert

This week parents of Beatrice school students were told there is at least one confirmed case of the very contagious and sometimes deadly, whooping cough.

Parents were notified via E-mail and telephone calls.

“Our obligation is to let people know that it's not only prevalent around the country, it's here in this part of our state,” Superintendent Roy Baker said.

As of right now, there is one lab-confirmed case and two clinically confirmed cases of the illness in Beatrice.  Baker would not say which school the cases are at, but that it is taking place at the elementary level.

Symptoms of pertussis, more commonly called whooping cough, include runny noses, sneezing, mild coughing and some infants can even stop breathing.  Gradually the coughing fits become more severe, making it difficult to sleep, eat and even breathe.

“It is very contagious,” registered nurse Kate Lange said. “It's spread by respiratory droplets, or just inhaling after someone would cough or sneeze.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were more than 18,000 cases of whooping cough nationwide in 2011, resulting in 13 deaths.  Lange, who works for the district department of public health, says it's vital for children and adults alike to stay on top of their vaccinations and booster shots.

“If you are not immune, and live in a household with someone who has it, about 80-percent of the people will get the infection,” Lange said.

Both parents and kids should keep a close eye out for symptoms until the middle of December – that's when the incubation period for this particular incident will most likely expire.