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WHS Heath Alert: Case of Whooping Cough Diagnosed at Watauga High School

We have just sent a letter to parents at Watauga High School informing them a case of pertussis has been diagnosed at the school. Attached is the text of the letter parents have received and more info on the condition.

We are writing to inform you that a student at Watauga High School has been diagnosed with pertussis (whooping cough). AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department) is working with your child’s school to identify students who may have been exposed to this student. The student is receiving treatment and is under quarantine. If your child is identified as having had close contact to this student, you will be notified with a separate letter.

Watauga County Schools is working directly with Health Department officials to ensure all appropriate steps are being taken to identify individuals who could have been in close contact with the affected student and to ensure the safety of our students and staff.

Hundreds of cases of pertussis are reported each year in North Carolina. Pertussis is an infection that affects the airways and is easily spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing. It causes a severe cough that can last for weeks or months, sometimes leading to coughing fits or vomiting. Anyone can get pertussis, but it can be dangerous for infants and people with weakened immune systems. Family members with pertussis can spread it to newborns. Additional information about pertussis is provided in the attached document and can be found on the CDC website ( http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/ ).

The best protection against pertussis is vaccination. Make sure your family’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Protection against pertussis from the childhood vaccine, DTaP, decreases over time. Older children and adults, including pregnant women, should get a pertussis booster shot called “Tdap” to protect themselves and infants near or around them. If you need the Tdap vaccine, contact your doctor or call AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department) to schedule an appointment at 828-264-4995.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call Debbie Adams at our local health department by calling (828) 264-4995 ext. 3110 or Shelly Klutz, the school nurse (828) 264-2407.


Dr. Scott Elliott
Superintendent, Watauga County Schools

Jennifer Greene Health Director