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September 15, 2012

Two Windham students have whooping cough

WINDHAM – Whooping cough is in two local schools.

Superintendent Henry LaBranche last night said two students have whooping cough. One is at Golden Brook School, the other at Center School.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is contagious and has been increasing both nationally and in New Hampshire.

The Department of Health and Human Services reported about 170 cases statewide last year, but expected to exceed that number this year.

LaBranche said a health alert was sent to parents yesterday.

A state advisory provided to parents also includes information about whooping cough, such as how to watch for symptoms.

School officials also were taking steps to protect students.

"Those rooms where the students were will all be thoroughly cleaned this weekend," LaBranche said.

There have been no cases of whooping cough in SAU 28's other community schools in Pelham.

Whooping cough produces rapid, violent and repeated coughing. It results in a loud whooping sound when people are forced to inhale.

It spreads through close contact via coughing and sneezing.

Whooping cough can be prevented with vaccines according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, between 10,000 and 25,000 cases are reported annually, including 10 to 20 deaths, according to the CDC.

But the vaccine isn't perfect, the CDC reports. The highest level of protection comes within the first two years following vaccination, then the protection level begins to decline.

Nationwide, there has been an increase in reported cases in the past three decades. The CDC credits increased awareness, better diagnostic testing, better reporting and waning immunity as contributing factors to the increase.

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