Whooping cough hits Paly

Charles Yu, Author

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The Santa Clara County Public Health Department released this notice of probable pertussis exposure at Palo Alto High School. Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, has spread through the Paly community over the past weeks. Photo by Charles Yu.

Palo Alto High school is warning students and staff about exposure to pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

The Public Health Department of Santa Clara County released a notice of probable exposure of pertussis three weeks ago, on Aug. 29, addressing the situation.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease that is spread through the air — whenever an infected person breathes, coughs, sneezes or talks.

One Paly student with the disease described his experience with whooping cough.

“It’s uncontrollable and leaves you light-headed after an attack,” the student said.

Other students are not very well informed on the disease.

“I have not taken any preventative methods for the whooping cough, in fact, I didn’t even know about it,” Paly junior Anish Haris said. “I just hope I’ll stay healthy and wash my hands and keep clean. I hope that it doesn’t come to me.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website [http://www.cdc.gov/features/pertussis/], first signs of whooping cough may be hard to tell as the symptoms are similar to those of the common cold. The trademark symptom of whooping cough is a violent series of coughing fits. Symptoms begin to develop two to three weeks after contact with the germs.

Teachers are taking measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

“I personally — I don’t know if anybody else does this — but I personally spray down the desks once a week,” Paly English teacher Erin Angell said. “If somebody seems to be coughing or sneezing, then I will recommend that they go to the nurse.”

The notice sent out by Santa Clara County states that the best method of prevention from the whooping cough is a DTaP (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis) vaccination, which is a standard vaccination for children. However, the vaccination has some flaws.

“Shots begin to wear off by the age of 11 years or sometimes even earlier, leaving most adolescents and adults susceptible to infection,” the notice from the Santa Clara County stated. “Because the vaccine is only 80 percent effective, even some recently immunized children can catch pertussis.”

Adolescents and adults over the age of 11 are still able to be immunized by receiving a Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis) vaccine.