Clark County school officials say an outbreak of pertussis, commonly called whooping cough has more than one third of the Greenwood Junior High and High School students staying home today.
County Health Officials say 32 cases have now been confirmed, and the school district is fighting to contain the disease.
Greenwood High School officials say when an outbreak of illness in the school was recently diagnosed as whooping cough, they asked for guidance from the health department. "Our county health officials are screening students, encouraging them, sometimes demanding they go in and be tested to make sure they're not a carrier for us”, says High School Principal Jim Haines.
The health department has set up a station inside the high school. They say the cough is very contagious for those in close quarters, even for those who have had the vaccination. In fact, county health officials say every student that has been diagnosed with pertussis has had a vaccination for the disease.
But despite the high number of cases, Haines says they’re following the recommendation of the Health Department to keep the school open. “It really makes a great deal of sense that they need to be able to have contact with these people”, said Haines. "If we were to close the school for a week, or 2 weeks, or 3 weeks, we have no guarantee that someone wouldn't come in and infect the whole group again.”
But Health and School Officials say that in order to protect the rest of the community, it’s important that anyone who has been in contact with the disease stays home during treatment.
Whooping cough can be dangerous and even fatal if not treated. It can be treated with antibiotics. Those receiving treatment are asked not to return to school or work until they have received at least five days of antibiotics.