INDIANTOWN, Fla. - Martin County health department and school district officials are on alert after a Warfield Elementary School student was diagnosed with whooping cough, according to a news release.
This is the county's second confirmed case this year of whooping cough, also known as pertussis.
School officials on Wednesday sent letters home with the 704 students notifying parents of the presence of the contagious bacterial respiratory infection at the kindergarten-fourth grade school.
"The healthy and safety of our students and staff are always a priority," said Cathy Brennan, school district spokeswoman.
Whooping cough, which is easily treated by antibiotics, can by spread by droplets from an infected person's cough or nose. Students are asked to practice good hygiene by coughing and sneezing in to their elbows and thoroughly washing their hands.
Officials are interested in any cases reported from Oct. 28 through this Friday, said Renay Rouse, Martin County Health Department spokeswoman. "Pertussis goes on for several weeks, that's why the window is so large."
The Warfield student diagnosed with whooping cough is home recovering, Rouse said. The child, whose identity, age and grade level is not being released, had been vaccinated against the infection, Rouse said. However, immunity can wane over time and booster shots are needed. Officials recommend children by age 4 receive four doses of the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine and students in the seventh grade get a booster dose of the vaccine.
"Parents, child care providers and grandparents should also consider getting immunized for pertussis, since the infection can be deadly if passed on to infants," stated Karlette Peck, health department administrator in a news release.
Health department officials said the whooping cough case is not related to vaccination declines as Warfield Elementary does not have any parents signing immunization waivers for students this school year, Rouse said.
The current case also is not related to the case involving an adult diagnosed during the summer, officials said.
Martin County is not experiencing an increase in whooping cough cases compared to prior years. The county had one case in 2010 and four cases in 2009, Rouse stated in an email.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a contagious bacterial infection of the respirator tract.
Symptoms: Runny nose, persistent, often violent, cough that lasts for a seven days or more. The coughing spells can leave infants and young children gasping for air. The most common complication is bacterial pneumonia.
How is spreads: Through direct contact with the droplets from an infected person's cough or nose
Treatment: Easily treated with antibiotics
More information: Martin County Health Department Epidemiology, 772-221-4000, ext. 2130 and www.cdc.gov/pertussis