Portland, Maine Schools Warn Parents of Whooping Cough

Portland, Maine school officials are alerting parents about cases of whooping cough.

Five children in city schools, two in elementary school, three in middle school either the illness or are suspected to.

The city’s public health director, Dr. Kolawole Bankole, says the best way to avoid the disease also known as pertussis, is vaccination.

He doesn’t think Portland is having a big outbreak of the disease but wants any parent with a child showing symptoms should take them to a doctor.

"Runny nose, weakness, vomiting, tiredness, you also get the whoop sounding cough," said Bankole.  "The first stage takes one to two weeks, its highly contagious during that period."

Meanwhile, Maine’s Center for Disease Control is still trying to figure out why the state has had a higher rate of whooping cough than average.

In January, Maine had the most pertussis cases on a state-by-state basis in the country, with 55 people confirmed having the illness.

April data showed just 33 cases in Maine but that’s still above the five-year median and above the 25 cases confirmed in 2018.

"We a look a lot at what’s going on," said Dr. Siiri Bennett, Maine’s state epidemiologist. "We’re looking for other suggestions as to what is happening, we just don’t know, but we’re talking to a lot of experts, the federal CDC and we’re looking at vaccination rates."

Dr. Bennett also says the state is educating parents and healthcare providers about the disease and encouraging parents to give children a regular course of vaccinations for whooping cough.

Infants are particularly susceptible to the disease and have not had as many vaccinations as older children, which means they can develop seizures and pneumonia if whooping cough persists long enough.

Whooping cough or pertussis is treatable with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.

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