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Ozaukee County confirms pertussis outbreak at Lumen Christi

Dec. 7, 2011

Thiensville - Private and public school officials have responded in recent weeks to an outbreak of the whooping cough after at least nine confirmed cases had been reported.

The spread of the contagious cough - known technically as pertussis - occurred at Lumen Christi, a private Catholic school in Thiensville. According to a church bulletin, the Ozaukee County Health Department links the outbreak to a person attending Mass at the church Nov. 6 and 13. The person had the whooping cough and was contagious while attending the services.

Although pertussis has not been reported by any students attending public schools in the Mequon-Thiensville School District, officials say they took swift measures to stem the increase of the condition, which generally is not serious for teens and adults, but can require hospitalization for infants and seniors.

Mequon-Thiensville Superintendent Demond Means said the district had all school busses heavily sanitized in an effort to kill any bacteria present in buses. Lumen Christi students ride the same buses public school children use.

At Lumen Christi, classrooms were thoroughly cleaned during the Thanksgiving weekend, Principal Gloria Schumacher said.

For information or to report whooping cough symptoms, call the Ozaukee County Health Department at (262) 238-8170.

Mequon-Thiensville is not the only Milwaukee-area community to report pertussis. In recent months, similar outbreaks have been confirmed in Menomonee Falls, Milwaukee and Racine.

- Dave Fidlin

AT A GLANCE

Pertussis is:

a contagious bacterial disease that affects the respiratory tract;

spread by contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person through coughing;

generally contracted through exposure with an infected person through repeated face-to-face contact.

Symptoms include:

a cough that worsens after about two weeks of initially occurring;

a high-pitched "whoop" sound after taking a breath of air;

the presence of thick phlegm;

vomiting;

red or blue face;

extreme fatigue

Prevention:

staying current with a pertussis vaccine

regular hand washing

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