Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

A couple of students in Waukee Middle School have been identified as having Pertussis (whooping cough).

Pertussis is spread through the air when infected people cough or sneeze. Pertussis symptoms have two stages. The first stage begins like a cold with a runny nose, sneezing, and cough.

Within one to two weeks the cough worsens and becomes fits of coughing. This second stage is marked by uncontrolled coughing spells and a whooping noise (in young children: when the child inhales). During severe coughing spells, a person may vomit or become blue in the face from lack of air. This stage lasts for four to six weeks.

Between spells, the person often appears to be well. Adults, teens and vaccinated children may have milder symptoms.

Please refer to the Fact Sheet for more information about Pertussis. Antibiotic therapy early in the course of the disease may decrease the severity of symptoms. Antibiotics are also recommended for people who are exposed to someone with Pertussis, to prevent them from getting disease and possibly spreading it to others.

The following recommendations however are being made to help prevent further spread of Pertussis:

  1. If your child is symptomatic (cold, persistent cough, etc.), please have him/her evaluated by your healthcare provider for Pertussis.
  2. All newly identified cases of Pertussis will be excluded from school until they have completed five full days of appropriated antibiotics. In addition to antibiotics, vaccination status should be assessed.
  3. People living in the same house as someone with Pertussis should receive antibiotics to prevent additional infections. In addition to antibiotics, vaccination status should be assessed.
  4. As above, people deemed to be close contacts to someone with Pertussis who have no symptoms should be offered prophylactic antibiotics to prevent the disease; they are not contagious and can continue all public activities without restriction.

Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, those students entering the 7th grade will be required to have a diptheria pertussis tetanus booster(Tdap).

For more information about pertussis (whooping cough) please review this Fact Sheet.

If you have further questions, please call Dallas County Public Health Nursing Services at 515-993-3750 or 515-465-2483.

Polk County Department of Health Release:

Sept. 12, 2012

Communicable Diseases:

Numbers remain high for Pertussis. In August we investigated 32 cases of pertussis, which is nearly as many as we investigated in the entire year before. We are now seeing all age groups affected.


Pertussis cases did not go down over the summer and with kids back in school the number of cases may continue to climb. Encourage parents of your students to check their immunization records and to get a booster if needed. All adults who will have contact with infants (under 2 months of age) should be vaccinated as adults can be common “spreaders” and infants are at the highest risk of hospitalization and death from pertussis.

560 Southeast University Avenue
Waukee, Iowa 50263
Phone 515.987.5161
Fax 515.987.2701