A student who attended summer activities at Evanston Township High School was diagnosed with whooping cough, a highly contagious illness, according to a letter sent out to students’ parents Tuesday.
The student was diagnosed and treated while he was participating in summer programming. Whooping cough can be transmitted through coughing and sneezing, with symptoms appearing seven to 10 days after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Due to the close proximity of students in school and the ability of whooping cough to easily spread, ETHS administrators and city officials are taking additional precautions to prevent an outbreak, Evanston Health Department Director Evonda Thomas-Smith said.
“It is considered one of the highly contagious infectious conditions,” she said. “It could last for a long period of time and people can go untreated, so that is why we’re really concerned about it.”
The letter advised parents to watch their children for symptoms and, if necessary, immediately contact their doctor and get appropriate antibiotic treatment. Initial symptoms of the whooping cough are much like those of the common cold, such as a runny nose and fever but can escalate to severe hacking coughs and vomiting, the CDC says.
Once the illness is diagnosed and treatment begins, those infected should be kept from attending school and other social activities for at least five days to prevent further transmission, the letter said.
Thomas-Smith said that although it’s impossible to predict if an outbreak could occur, officials are just being “diligent” in covering all the bases and informing the appropriate people. It’s important that parents and students are aware of the situation, she said.
To prevent spread of infection, officials advised students to practice clean hygiene, including frequently washing their hands and covering their mouths when they cough.
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