Six students and one staff member at Glenwood Elementary School were diagnosed with whooping cough, a spokesperson for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools said.
CHCCS spokesman Jeff Nash said the seven people infected, whose ages range from 8 to 24, are completing treatment, with some already well enough to return to school. Parents were notified of the outbreak with a letter from the Orange County Health Department.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a respiratory infection characterized by severe coughing spells that end in a whooping sound when the person breathes in. The Orange County Health Department said the first symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a common cold, including low-grade fever, runny nose and sneezing.
Infants and young children are most at risk for whooping cough. According to the letter sent to Glenwood parents, children are routinely immunized against whooping cough with the TDaP vaccine as an infant and again around age 4 or 5.
Those infected with whooping cough are treated with antibiotics.
“In the seven years I’ve been here, it seems to crop up every couple years or so,” Nash said.
The number of cases in North Carolina increased from 300 in 2016 to 361 in 2017, the Orange County Health Department said.
The number of cases at Glenwood Elementary has remained steady at seven, Orange County communications manager Kristin Prelipp said. However, it’s too early to say the outbreak is over.
“Hopefully it dissipates quickly,” Nash said. “Until it does, we’ll continue working with the health department, making sure notices get to the right families.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.