Pertussis--aka-- Whooping Cough
What parents need to know:


There has been a couple of confirmed cases of whooping cough (pertussis) in the Prescott School District. Whooping cough is a contagious disease recently diagnosed in some communities around Western Wisconsin. Pertussis is a serious risk to newborns and very young infants due to possible respiratory complications of whooping cough.  Children and adults (especially if not immunized) that seem in the early stages of mild cold-like illness could be the early stage of whooping cough. Also avoid persons with a persistent cough that has not been screened for whooping cough/pertussis. Please read below: 

If your child, anyone in your family, or circle of friends has or develops symptoms of pertussis, contact your health provider for screening. Please read below:


Pertussis symptoms:

  1. The disease begins with mild cold-like symptoms including a runny nose, possible low-grade fever, and a mild cough. 
  2. After 1-2 weeks, the illness progresses to spells of explosive coughing that can interrupt breathing, eating, and sleepingAfter a coughing spell, patients may make a loud crowing or "whooping" sound as they struggle to inhale air (hence the name "whooping cough") and may also gag or vomit. 
  3. Patients may experience severe coughing spells for several weeks or months. Among vaccinated individuals, symptoms may be milder and without the typical whoop.

Please monitor your child for the development of a cough illness, especially if you suspect they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive. If your child has or develops the symptoms described above, the health department recommends that:

  • The child should be evaluated as soon as possible by a healthcare provider. Patients with pertussis are most infectious during the early stages of the disease; therefore, seeking medical evaluation as soon as possible is very important to stop the spread of the disease. 
  • The child should be tested for pertussis and receive antibiotic treatment beginning the same day.
  • The child should be isolated at home until completion of five days of appropriate antibiotics.
  • The healthcare provider should report positive test results to the health department.


To prevent the spread of illness: Wash hands often. Cover your cough. Stay home when sick.


Ensure your child is up-to-date for pertussis vaccinations. Please check with your school nurse, child’s doctor or the Pierce County Health Department regarding your child’s vaccination status and to see if your child is due for additional vaccinations.


Please check the Prescott School District website for any updates or call your school nurse.

Please refer to this CDC website for detailed information.

The Wisconsin Student Immunization Law requires that students entering 6th grade this fall will have received one dose of tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough/pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccine or have a signed waiver on file at school before the first day, September 4th.
This important booster vaccine protects against whooping cough, a contagious disease that has been showing up in some areas in Wisconsin recently. This disease is especially dangerous to newborns and infants who can get it from ill unvaccinated children and adults that carry may the disease.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends a meningococcal vaccination for students entering middle school and college.  Meningococcal vaccine can prevent against 4 types of meningococcal disease, a serious bacterial illness that is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis.