BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Catlin School District officials are taking steps after a case of whooping cough was diagnosed in one of the students.
Catlin Superintendent Gary Lewis issued an announcement Friday morning indicating a student at Catlin Grade School had been diagnosed with whooping cough, also known as Pertussis.
According to Lewis, the school was notified of the diagnosis of whooping cough on Thursday. The student — who was not identified — is recovering.
As a result of the whooping cough diagnosis, Lewis has indicated officials will be working during the holiday break to disinfect the grade school building at 216 N. Webster St., Catlin.
Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing.
Lewis indicated Friday that he was unaware if anyone was being tested for whooping cough.
Vermilion County has not seen an overabundance of whooping cough cases in recent years. In fact, numbers have dropped off, going from four cases in 2009 and six cases in 2010 to zero cases in 2011, according to county health department figures.
Doug Toole, director of environmental health for the county health department, said the county has only confirmed the one case of whooping cough this year.
According to Toole, the health department is conducting surveillance to monitor people who may have been in contact with the whooping cough case.
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health recommends that all close contacts to a person with whooping cough receive the recommended antibiotic treatment even if they have been vaccinated recently against whooping cough.
Toole said cases of whooping cough actually have gone up in the U.S., including an outbreak in the Chicago area during the fall of 2011. That outbreak prompted a new Illinois law requiring school children to be immunized for it.
According to information sent out by Lewis, whooping cough symptoms may appear 5 to 10 days following exposure but can take up to 21 days. The initial symptoms are similar to those of a common cold, including a runny nose, low-grade fever and a mild occasional cough, which can become severe and spasmodic with a distinctive whooping sound.
Toole said individuals demonstrating symptoms of whooping cough should see a doctor.