The Whooping Cough Strikes Again

Your New Winter Nightmare

Ishika Vyas, Staff Writer

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Holiday season is almost here, but along with all the festivities, unfortunately, comes the dreaded sick season. This year, along with the typical common cold and flu, there have been cases of pertussis in the Montgomery County area. 

Pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial infection caused by the bacteria bordetella pertussis. It is categorized by violent uncontrolled coughing, lending the infection its distinguishing “whooping” sound.

The infection must be treated with regular antibiotic treatment to help subdue some of these symptoms and shorten the duration of the infection. 

Recently, there has been an outbreak of the infection in our very own Harriton halls. In fact, just last week, there was a letter sent out to all parents informing them about the infection and providing valuable information on steps that can be taken to prevent its spread.

The most important of these mentioned methods is getting vaccinated. 

The current vaccination available for pertussis is called the Tdap vaccine. Getting this vaccination will prevent the likelihood of an individual catching the infection, and it will also increase herd immunity.

Herd immunity is the resistance to the spread of infection in a population, if a high percentage of individuals in that population are immunized. 

This herd immunity is vital for a contagious disease, like pertussis, because there are members of the Lower Merion community who are not or can not be fully immunized. Those included in this category consist of infants, the eldery, and people with other serious health issues, who, when exposed to pertussis, can face life threatening consequences.

According to the district letter, “Adults and children who do not know they have pertussis pose a significant risk to infants,” and pertussis is “extremely dangerous when contracted by infants who have not been fully immunized.” 

Along with vaccinations, you can also take measures to maintain good hygiene and prevent the spread of infections like pertussis. Some of these methods include washing your hands regularly, not sharing drinks, covering your coughs and sneezes and et cetera.

In addition, the CDC mentions that “Handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16%.” Though this may not seem like much, in combination with other preventative measures like vaccinations, this can make a big difference. 

So this year, Harriton, stay healthy and keep others around you healthy, too. Get your vaccinations, wash your hands, practice healthy habits, and you too can evade pertussis and the rest of this year’s sick season. 

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