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Whooping cough case reported at Westridge Elementary


At least one case of pertussis or whooping cough was reported at Westridge Elementary School.

Parents received a letter on Monday from the district reporting the incident and also listing symptoms of the disease and how to avoid contracting it.

“There were two cases of pertussis diagnosed in district schools in 2011-12, and five in 2010-11,” district spokeswoman Nancy Duin said. “There have been no additional reports of pertussis this year.”

The district is not allowed to release health information that could potentially lead to the identification of individual students, Duin said.

Pertussis, a preventable disease, is a bacterial infection that can have symptoms such as coughing severely enough to cause vomiting and whooping or a high-pitched crowing sound when inhaling after coughing, according to the letter, which cited district nurses Ann Nelson and Katie Levin.

The disease’s incubation period is usually seven to 10 days, and the contagious period usually lasts until two weeks after the coughing begins, depending on age and immunization status, the letter said. Pertussis is spread by direct hand contact and direct or close contact with mouth and nose secretions.

Whooping cough is preventable with a vaccination, yet the incidences of the disease are increasing in the state and nationwide.

Last year, Oregon had more than 800 pertussis cases, the highest rate since the 1950s, according to Oregonians for Healthy Children. From 2011 to 2012, 49 states and Washington, D.C., reported increases in pertussis, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Last year, Oregon was on a short list of states with an incidence of pertussis that was higher than the national one. Oregon’s rate was 23.3 per 100,000 people in 2012, as compared to the national average of 13.4 per 100,000 people, CDC documents state.

There also is an increase of parents who are choosing not to vaccinate their children.

Oregon’s rate of nonmedical or religious exemptions for vaccinations is at an all-time high of 6.4 percent this year. It was 5.8 percent last year. Lake Oswego School District kindergartners with religious exemptions to vaccines increased from 5 percent in 2012 to 8 percent this year. The number for all students in the district rose from 3.3 percent in January 2012 to 4.1 percent as of last month.