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Whooping cough outbreak continues to spread

The+nurse%E2%80%99s+office+at+Lincoln%2C+pictured+in+March+2017.
The nurse’s office at Lincoln, pictured in March 2017.

The nurse’s office at Lincoln, pictured in March 2017.

Chase Turner

Chase Turner

The nurse’s office at Lincoln, pictured in March 2017.

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The outbreak of whooping cough first reported at Lincoln in April has now spread to 18 suspected cases, according to KGW.

Nurse Mary Johnson sent an email to parents on April 7 to inform them that a case of the highly contagious illness, also known as pertussis, had been confirmed at Lincoln. Sending this letter is required by the county health department, as whooping cough can spread rapidly and have severe effects.

It can lead to death for infants, who could be exposed by siblings or friends who attend Lincoln.

“Whooping cough starts like the common cold with a runny nose, sneeze and cough. The cough gets worse, causing coughing spells and lasting weeks to months,” the Multnomah County Health Department wrote on a flier distributed by Nurse Johnson.

“During coughing spells, people can gag, gasp or make high-pitched whoops. They struggle to eat, drink or breathe. They can cough so hard that they vomit,” the flier continued.

In terms of infection, “whooping cough spreads when an infected person sneezes, coughs or sprays the germs from their mouth or nose. People can spread the disease from the first sign they are ill until they have been on antibiotics for five days.”

The illness is easily preventable. Students should get vaccinated, and “good hand washing and coughing into your elbows helps minimize the spread of all respiratory illnesses,” Johnson wrote to parents.

Obviously, students have to continue these measures to stop the spread. Custodians have been disinfecting surfaces as much as they can, but the school is glad summer is coming up to stymie the spread, reported KPTV.

Anyone with questions or who thinks they may have the illness should call the Metropolitan Pertussis Surveillance Program (503-988-8816).

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