A 10th case of whooping cough has been confirmed in Columbia’s public schools, a school official said Wednesday. The student was a first-grader at Rock Bridge Elementary School, the fifth school to be affected by the outbreak.
Darlene Huff, health services coordinator for the school district, estimated that 130 to 140 students and staff have been identified as close contacts since whooping cough was first identified in the schools.
“We are working with the health department and following their lead,” said Huff. The first case of the illness was announced May 12.
The Columbia/Boone County Health Department is asking parents of children who have come into contact with those infected to put their children on antibiotics immediately. All parents at affected schools receive a letter outlining what to do if their children show whooping cough symptoms.
“Both my kindergartner and first-grader have been put on antibiotics,” said Paula White, a mother of four students at Rock Bridge.
School ends a week from today. Children who require treatment with antibiotics risk missing their final days of school if they are unable to obtain the medicine.
When Beth Brown picked up her children Wednesday she received a slip that needed to be signed by a physician to verify that her first-grader was taking antibiotics before he would be allowed to return to school.
“The school has done an exemplary job of getting information out to parents,” said Brown, the mother of two children at Rock Bridge.
Other cases of whooping cough have been confirmed at Grant Elementary, Gentry, Russell Boulevard and Smithton middle schools.