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The following information was emailed to parents of Columbia High School students following additional confirmed cases of pertussis by the Rensselaer County Health Department.

The Rensselaer County Health Department has informed us that additional Columbia High School students have been diagnosed with pertussis (whooping cough). The first case was confirmed on October 25 and a letter was sent to all Columbia staff and parents of Columbia students that day.

In the past week, three additional students have been diagnosed with pertussis. They are all receiving medical care and are out of school. This letter is being sent home to inform you of the signs and symptoms related to pertussis.

Pertussis is a very contagious respiratory disease that is usually spread through the air with close indoor repeated contact to a sick person by talking, coughing, or sneezing. Please watch your child for symptoms which usually appear between 3-21 days after exposure.

Common Signs and Symptoms:

Begins with:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Occasional cough
  • Low or no fever
  • Sneezing

After a week or two, signs and symptoms become worse and usually include:

  • Severe coughing attacks
  • Coughing followed by vomiting, turning blue, difficulty catching one’s breath, or a high pitched “whoop” sound
  • Coughing that is not helped by medications

If your child is showing symptoms of pertussis please keep them home and call the doctor. For the most accurate diagnosis, your child should be tested. Children who have been treated for pertussis should stay home until after the 5th day of medication.

As pertussis circulates in the community, it is important for all to take measures to stop the spread of illness, which include:

  • Ensuring your immunizations are up to date (adults and children)
  • Coughing and sneezing into your elbow or tissue (not into your hand or air)
  • Keeping yourself and your children away from others when sick

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Columbia High School Health Office at 518-207-2070.