5 Gilbert School students diagnosed with whooping cough - WFSB 3 Connecticut

5 Gilbert School students diagnosed with whooping cough

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Five cases of whooping cough were reported at The Gilbert School in Winsted. (WFSB photo) Five cases of whooping cough were reported at The Gilbert School in Winsted. (WFSB photo)

Parents were warned after health officials said five students diagnosed with whooping cough at private school in Winsted this week. 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health said there were five confirmed cases of Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, at the Gilbert School.

Whooping cough, according to DPH officials, is caused by bacteria and is commonly spread by "coughing, sneezing, and prolonged close contact with infected individuals." 

The Gilbert School is considered a boarding school. Superintendent Anthony Serio said an unidentified student, who lives in town and goes to the Gilbert School, came down with the illness and was put in isolation. However, DPH officials said whooping cough spread to others.

The first case was a few weeks ago and now, the student is feeling better, according to Serio. The other four students commute to Gilbert School. Two were still out sick. 

All five students are high schoolers, however DPH officials said they "anticipate additional cases at the school and among other close contacts."

Symptoms for whooping cough usually take about one to two weeks to start and the cough will worsen over time, according to DPH officials.  DPH officials said "individuals may experience bursts of rapid coughing (paroxysms), vomiting, or produce a whooping sound when inhaling." 

Serio said once antibiotics are in the system, whooping cough is not contagious.

On Tuesday, email as well as letter from Serio was sent home to the parents and posted it on their website, so they knew about the outbreak. 

"There's a good network of parents that are keeping each other in tuned to what's going on as," parent Lisa Steves said.

 Serio said next week will be the last week of classes at Gilbert School. Students are in the midst of finals this week.

"I have a son who does have a cough but it's not anything I'm concerned about. "He doesn't have a fever or the typical symptoms."

While Steves said she doesn't think her son has whooping cough, she is concerned after the recent developments. 

"I don't want this coming through my family. We have a big weekend this weekend," Steves said. "That would affect my weekend." \

Serio advised the parents keep their children home from school and activities if they develop the symptoms.

In his letter, Serio said the illness's severe cough can last for weeks or months. It's a dangerous disease to have around infants and people with weak immune systems.

Serio said school officials have been following the rules of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the state health department. DPH officials continue to monitor the situation with school officials and the Torrington Area Health District.  

While school children are routinely vaccinated against pertussis, it's not uncommon for vaccinated people to develop it, according to the CDC.

Here's more on pertussis from the CDC.

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