DEXTER, Maine — Ridge View Community School, which had six confirmed cases of whooping cough earlier this month, had 32 confirmed cases as of Thursday, assistant principal Adam Gudroe said.
Gudroe added that one more case has been confirmed at nearby Dexter Regional High School, for a total of 33 in the school district.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Web page, pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is a “highly contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing.”
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been involved since the first outbreak, Gudroe said, and Ridge View, which has more than 700 students, is taking no chances.
“If students are suspected of having whooping cough, they’re asked to go get checked and not come back [to school] until they have a negative or positive [test result],” he explained.
If a test comes back positive, Gudroe said, the student must remain on antibiotics for five days before coming back. If it’s negative, the student may return to school immediately.
“We’re getting back to normalcy,” he said. “We’ve been very proactive on it, making sure that we’re getting kids checked ahead of time.”
He added: “For the most part we’ve had great cooperation with the school and the parents.”
State epidemiologist Dr. Stephen Sears said that the Maine CDC is still working with school officials and local doctors.
“We’ve been working a lot with the doctors making sure they’re in tune to it and they are,” Sears said.
Students at both Ridge View and Dexter High will have a chance to get an updated booster shot Friday, Gudroe said, as the Maine CDC is setting up a clinic at both schools for students who haven’t had an updated booster shot in a while.
“We went through all the student records and found all the students who haven’t been updated,” said Gudroe.
Principal Mike Tracy was out of town on a business matter, according to an office secretary, and all questions were referred to Gudroe.