The Sanford school department is warning parents that there have been several cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, at local schools.
District Superintendent David Theoharides says there have been four confirmed cases at Margaret Chase Smith primary school and two at Sanford Junior High.
There is a vaccination for pertussis, and the illness is most common in school-aged kids. Theoharides says in most cases it’s not severe for kids that age. He says a bigger concern is when they bring it home to younger family members.
“The bigger worry is, and I remember this when my grandson was born, I had to get a booster shot, and newborns, it’s particularly dangerous for them,” Theoharides says.
Pertussis can cause pneumonia, convulsions, breathing problems or even death in infants.
In the last few years, the number of pertussis cases in Maine has risen from dozens each year into the hundreds as the vaccination rates for it have dropped.
A new program in the state aims to lower the rate of pertussis by requiring middle schoolers to get a booster shot.
Theoharides also says that if children have symptoms of pertussis to “take them to the doctor. Don’t send them to school. go see what’s going on. It’s a simple little test, and we’d rather have a student stay home if they’re sick, rather than come in and spread it to other students.”
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.