DRAPER — Parents of Corner Canyon High School students were notified Thursday by the Salt Lake County Health Department of an outbreak of whooping cough at the school.
The letter directs people with cold symptoms to contact health care providers immediately and to inform them of their possible exposure to pertussis, which is a highly contagious respiratory disease.
To date, there have been five confirmed cases of the disease at the school, according to Salt Lake County Health Department spokesman Nicholas Rupp. Corner Canyon is the only high school in Salt Lake County that has had a pertussis outbreak in 2018, he said.
Among a student body of 2,200 students, about 100 students are exempt from vaccination either because of parental choice, because they cannot receive immunizations due to medical conditions, or because they are undergoing chemotherapy.
"As a health department, we support parental choice. We just have to remind those parents who make this particular choice that the ramifications may be that their student is not able to attend school. For pertussis, it is 21 days after the last student confirmed case is no longer symptomatic," Rupp said.
Whooping cough is caused by a bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Pertussis is only found in humans and spreads from person to person.
Early symptoms include runny nose, low-grade fever, mild occasional cough, and apnea — temporary stoppage of breathing, especially during sleep — in babies.
After one to two weeks and as the disease progresses, traditional symptoms of pertussis may appear including fits of rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched "whoop" sound; vomiting during or after coughing fits and exhaustion after coughing fits, according to the CDC.
Health care providers generally treat pertussis with antibiotics, and early treatment is very important. Babies are at greatest risk for serious complications from pertussis, according to the CDC.
The letter to parents notes that "individuals who have been fully immunized earlier in life are still susceptible to infection because the pertussis vaccine wears off over time and no longer provides protection."
According to vaccination guidelines, infants over 6 weeks of age need the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine series to prevent pertussis; preteens over 10 years of age, and all teens and adults, need one Tdap vaccine to prevent tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, the letter states.Comment on this story
The letter urges parents to contact their child's health care provider or the Salt Lake County Health Department at 385-468-7468 to make appointments for the vaccination.
Anyone in a child's household who is immunocompromised or who has other serious medical problems should consult their primary care physician for recommendations, according to the letter.
For questions, parents or guardians should call their primary care provider or the Salt Lake County Health Department's general information line, 385-468-4100.
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, one reference to Corner Canyon High School was incorrectly called Canyon Corner High School.