WENTZVILLE, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- The Wentzville School District said there are five confirmed cases of Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough. The first two cases were diagnosed Thursday, and the other three were diagnosed Monday.
Pertussis is highly contagious and can even be deadly in some cases. It can spread simply by being in the same room as someone who is infected. It often starts as a severe cold.
Common symptoms include a prolonged cough, fever, and runny nose.
A mother posted on Facebook, tagging KMOV, questioning why the Wentzville School District took so long to inform parents. The post read in part --
"I'd like to know why it took FOUR DAYS to inform parents that their child's school has (as of now) four confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in 5th grade - with the first case being confirmed last Thursday?"
The district told News 4 it followed instructions from the St. Charles County Health Department. The health department said it worked with the district to craft a letter that was sent Friday to parents of students in the classrooms of the students with confirmed cases at Peine Ridge Elementary and Boone Trail Elementary.
On Monday, when the additional cases were confirmed at Peine Ridge, the district sent another letter to parents in the classrooms and then a letter to all parents of students at Peine Ridge Elementary.
“We are very concerned for the safety and health of all our students, but we are going to follow the guidelines of the county health department," said Laura Parn, the executive director for student services for the Wentzville School District.
Parn said the classrooms affected were thoroughly disinfected along with common areas in the elementary schools.
The St. Charles County Health Department said it's a case-by-case basis when it comes to how it instructs schools to inform parents when something like whooping cough is circulating.
Demetrius Cianci-Chapman, the director of public health, said the district followed protocol.
“If you approach this in a manner that is reckless you can elicit panic and we wouldn’t want that. It’s counter productive for controlling this outbreak," said Cianci-Chapman. “The walking wells showing up to the pediatrician even though no one is sick and doesn’t have symptoms could block access for someone who is genuinely sick.”
Cianci-Chapman said St. Charles County has averaged 15 cases of Pertussis for the last five years and told News 4 this year is about the same.
Symptoms of Pertussis can show up anywhere from 5-21 days after exposure.