Health Center urges students to protect against whooping cough

This summer saw a massive outbreak of Pertussis (or whooping cough), an endemic in the United States, with peaks in this disease every three to five years.

With these frequent outbreaks, the Bradley Health Center is urging students to become aware of the ramifications.

Dr. Jessica Higgs of the university health center said for the student-age population, Pertussis takes the form of a nasty cough that lasts for several weeks but will not lead to extreme illness. When spread to the very young and very old in age, however, the disease becomes a much greater health concern.

“If you have a very young sibling, or a babysitting charge, or an elderly grandparent or friend; you could make them severely ill by exposing them to this bacteria,” said Higgs. “That is why it is important for people of all ages to be vaccinated against it.”

Bradley currently requires that all students be within 10 years up to date on their tetanus vaccination – a vaccination that now includes the addition of a Pertussis booster.

“The tetanus vaccinations that Health Services administers all have Pertussis vaccination,” said  Higgs. “We are also following the current CDC guidelines. If we have a student we suspect may have Pertussis or recently come in contact with someone who does, we are testing them for Pertussis and treating them with antibiotics without waiting for the results of the test.”

Higgs said the Bradley Health Center is trying its best to fight the spread of Pertussis on campus. She said students should do certain health procedures in their daily lives to actively protect themselves and their loved ones against this national endemic.

“It cannot be stressed enough that what works for the flu works for other illnesses as well,” said Higgs. “Students should wash their hands frequently, cover their cough and contain their illness, meaning staying home when they are ill.”

She also urges students to check their vaccination schedules to make sure they have been recently immunized.

Students can call for appointments at 309-677-2700.