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Officials report possible whooping cough exposure at Brookfield's Pilgrim Park Middle School

Nov. 4, 2013

Pilgrim Park eighth-graders may have been exposed to the whopping cough and parents should be vigilant for symptoms, school officials warned today.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a contagious bacterial disease that affects the respiratory tract.

The disease is spread by repeated or extensive contact, such as within a household, classroom or carpool. Symptoms usually appear seven to 20 days of exposure, according to the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.

Although people of all ages can contract pertussis, certain ages are more susceptible to serious illness from it. Infants younger than 1 year are more likely to need hospitalization and are more likely to die from pertussis, according to the state. The disease also is more likely to cause serious illness in pregnant women in their third trimester and people with poor immune systems, chronic lung diseases or neuromuscular diseases.

If anyone exhibits symptoms of pertussis, they should consult a doctor, according to a school memo sent to parents.

Antibiotics can be used to prevent and treat the disease.

For information, contact your doctor or call the Waukesha County Public Health Division's Nurse Call Center at (262) 896-8430.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

■A cough that lasts longer than a week

■A long series of coughing that make breathing difficult

■Coughing fits followed by a "whooping noise" or vomiting

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