Great Valley School District alerted parents Monday morning that a student at was diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
According to the letter (attached to this article) sent by superintendent Alan Lonoconus to parents:
That student is under a doctor’s care and returned to school today after being cleared as no longer contagious. However, your child may have been exposed between March 4, 2012 and March 9, 2012.
The new case is the seventh confirmed case of pertussis in the Great Valley School District. There have been four in , one in , one in and the latest in General Wayne.
According to Betsy Walls, director of Personal Health Services in the Chester County Department of Health, "What we’re seeing nationally is that [for] people who have the vaccine and have received age-appropriate dosing, there’s a point where protection seems to be waning and people become susceptible to pertussis."
A policy change was recently enacted to mandate that all students entering seventh grade have the vaccine, according to Walls.
One case of pertussis in a school typically spurs its administration and nurse to keep an eye out for symptoms in others and to make sure health records are up to date. A second case triggers more serious preventative actions, and can lead to students staying home until they can prove they're properly vaccinated, as happened in the .
"If [a student] becomes symptomatic and nobody else exhibits symptoms within 21 days, it’s an isolated case," Walls said. "If a second [student displays] symptoms within 21 days, we declare they are linked. We declare to the school, the term we use is 'outbreak,' and they need to be assured that all students in school meet the standard for that vaccine, and they also look at the adults on the staff."
For more information on the symptoms of Pertussis and free screenings held by the Chester County Department of Health, see .