ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV) – Officials in St. Louis and St. Louis County say they have seen a spike in the number of students coming home with pertussis, better known as whooping cough.
The trend was made more apparent when two students from Parkway West High School got it this week.
“It is contagious and by being in close contact or in a confined space in any given time children can pass diseases among one another,” said Lisa Harnacker with the Parkway School District.
Parkway School District officials said six students within the district have caught it since August.
“Actually the health department contacted all school districts in St. Louis County back in late summer to let us know they were predicting high cases of pretussis,” said Harnacker.
Just this year, 217 people have been infected. That’s compared to 154 in 2011.
But it’s not only in the county. Officials said 40 people have caught whooping cough in St. Louis city, which is triple the number of cases detected last year.
“There’s no clear explanation for it. It’s just the luck of the draw,” said Dr. Faisal Khan with the St. Louis County Health Department. “You see cases in one district one week, then a whole bunch of cases the next week. There’s really no clear explanation for it.”
Khan said students between 10 and 17 years old are most at risk, as well as children under the age of 1.
“And it’s transmitted much in the same way the flu would be: coughing, sneezing, and you can transmit it by the droplet of an infection,” said Khan.
Students with whooping cough are typically out of school for about five days.
Khan said parents should take their child to the doctor if they get what seems like an extreme cough that won’t go away.