An Eatonville High School student has whooping cough.
That’s the word from the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department on Thursday. The department was notified of the student’s illness by a health care provider.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, can spread through direct contact with an infected individual via sneezes, coughs or even speaking.
It is highly contagious.
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The ill student is staying away from school until finishing a course of antibiotics and is no longer infectious, said health department spokeswoman Edie Jeffers.
The student is believed to have come down with the disease May 9. It was mistaken for a milder illness at first, Jeffers said. That is not uncommon with the disease, she said.
“If you’re child is coughing a lot, don’t take for granted that it’s seasonal allergies or asthma,” Jeffers said.
Pertussis usually starts like a cold and a cough. It worsens during the next one or two weeks. It usually does not include a fever.
The illness can be fatal for infants.
The best prevention is vaccination, Jeffer said.
Kirk’s Pharmacy in Eatonville offers the vaccine, which typically includes diptheria and tetanus vaccines.