Posted at: 09/18/2012 11:35 AM
| Updated at: 09/18/2012 6:23 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann
WYNANTSKILL - Karen Carpenter Palumbo said when two students at the Richard A. Desrochers Educational Center were diagnosed with whooping cough last Friday, they had to act fast because of the diseases' contagious nature,
"Within two hours we had notified all the families we had given every child who lives antibiotics and we were in constant contact with the health department," Palumbo said. She is the CEO of Vanderheyden Hall, the agency that runs the school and housing for children and adults with developmental, behavioral and emotional needs.
In fact, Rensselaer County has had such an up tick in pertussis cases, the medical term for whooping cough, it declared a outbreak with 32 cases so far this year, 17 just since August 1st. Compare that to just 18 cases for the all of last year.
Dr. Colleen Kelley, Director of the Emergency Department at St. Mary's Hospital said, the disease leads to no ordinary cough.
"When you cough and you cough and you cough and you cough and you cough and you cough and adults turn red and kids turn blue and you can't catch your breath," Kelley said.
Dr. Kelley added that it's important to recognize the symptoms of whooping cough early, a cough normally not accompanied by phlegm or fever. An infected person will be isolated for five days for antibiotic treatment. But Kelley warned if it's not diagnosed early or recognized in adults, pertussis can be dangerous for unvaccinated children.
"They in turn then can pass that infection on to infants or children who've not yet received their full series of immunizations which they get by 18 months. And in those age groups, pertussis can be deadly," she said.