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Whooping cough outbreak hits Festus schools

Sixteen students tested positive for whooping cough as of Nov. 5.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — More than a dozen students tested positive for whooping cough at Festus area schools in October.

According to a spokesperson at Festus R-VI School District, 62 students in the district showed symptoms. Of the 62 people, 16 tested positive for pertussis also known as whooping cough. Fifteen of the students were at the high school and the other one was at the intermediate school.

The spokesperson said the district has been asked is unvaccinated students were the cause of the outbreak and the district said ‘no.’ Less than 1% of the students in the district are not vaccinated, the spokesperson said.

‘Our teachers, school nurses, and Coordinator of Staff and Student Wellness are monitoring students who may show early symptoms of pertussis, so they can be seen by a physician to be tested and started on treatment as soon as possible.  Students who show symptoms are not allowed to return to school until they test negative or have undergone a five-day treatment of antibiotics (at which point they are no longer contagious).’ A school district spokesperson said.

Whooping cough usually begins with cold-like symptoms, runny nose, sneezing, mild cough and possibly a fever.

A letter was sent home to parents on Nov. 5.

The Missouri State Health Department considers this an 'outbreak.' A spokesperson for the school district said the health department will continue to monitor the situation.

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