At least five Souderton Area High School Students have been confirmed positive for pertussis, or whooping cough, prompting  Montgomery County health officials to classify the situation as an outbreak at the school.

Montgomery County, PA/David Benbennick
Montgomery County, PA/David Benbennick

The Souderton Area School District says they are working closely with county health officials to monitor and respond to this issue. The school has increased its vigilance for signs of the illness and intensified the daily cleaning and disinfecting of rooms and surfaces.

The Montgomery County Health Department, in consultation with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, has made the following recommendations for parents:

  1. Parents should review each child’s health record to determine the vaccination status of the child.
  2. Children should be observed over the next 2 weeks for any symptoms such as a running nose, sudden, uncontrollable bursts or spells of coughing that persist and sometimes cause vomiting. These symptoms should be reported immediately to your pediatrician.
  3. If your child comes down with cold symptoms that include a cough, the child should be evaluated by his/her pediatrician. Evaluation should include a nasopharyngeal culture for pertussis.
  4. Children with pertussis, if their medical condition allows, may return to school and activities five (5) days after starting appropriate antibiotics and must continue taking the antibiotics until completed.
  5. All household members and close contacts of a confirmed pertussis case should receive preventative antibiotics regardless of their age or vaccination status.

Here are some helpful reminders regarding pertussis-containing vaccine for various age groups:

  1. If your child is under the age of 7 years and has not received the full recommended vaccination series (DTaP at 2, 4 and 6 months, first booster at 15-18 months and second booster at 4-6 years), please contact your pediatrician and complete the vaccination schedule.
  2. Children ages 7-10 who have not received the full recommended vaccination series should receive a dose of Tdap at the earliest opportunity.
  3. Persons between the ages of 11 and 64 who have not received a previous dose of Tdap vaccine should receive a single dose. No minimum interval since a previous dose of Td needs to be observed.
  4. Persons aged 65 and older may also receive a single dose of Tdap vaccine, as directed by their primary care physician.

Whooping cough is caused by the bacterium, Bordetella pertussis. This vaccine-preventable disease is spread through direct contact with respiratory discharges via the airborne route.

Pertussis goes through a series of stages in the infected person; initially an irritating cough followed by repeated, violent coughing. The disease gets its nickname by coughing without inhaling air giving the characteristic high-pitched whoop. Certain populations may not have the typical whoop like infants and adults.

It is highly communicable, especially in very early stages and the beginning of coughing episodes, for approximately the first 2 weeks. Then the communicability gradually decreases and at 3 weeks it is negligible, though the cough my last for months. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page.