Health officials are warning parents that a case of whooping cough has been confirmed at Salem Hills High School in Utah County.
Salem Hills administrators sent letters to parents asking that they keep sick kids home and see their health practitioner if they have a heavy cough or flulike symptoms. Utah County Health Department spokesperson Lance Madigan says the best line of defense is vaccination, although the student who contracted pertussis was vaccinated.
“It’s one of our vaccines that’s maybe not as effective; it’s 70 to 80 percent effective,” Madigan says. “That’s why it’s important that we get more people vaccinated - for those people that don’t react as well to the vaccine - to create that herd immunity, so that we can prevent the disease from spreading.”
Madigan says the numbers of people with whooping cough is actually declining. Last year, he said they had more than 220 cases in Utah County, but this year, there have only been 15 cases so far.
“We always have pertussis floating in the community, so having one or two cases here or there is not cause for alarm; it’s just something we continue to watch,” Madigan says. He did note however that pertussis can be fatal, especially for small children.