As of Tuesday, May 22, 2018, there are 91 confirmed cases of whooping cough across five school districts in Lane County. In an effort to quell the outbreak, Public Health departments have ordered un-immunized and sick students to be excluded from school.
Lane County Public Health uses a number of tools to end outbreaks. Early diagnosis, case investigation, vaccines and exclusion. When an outbreak is confirmed in a school, the priority is keeping students and staff safe. In the current whooping cough outbreak, all 91 students in 25 schools were asked not to come back unless they receive antibiotic treatment or immunization.
Students who are not up to date on their vaccines have also been excluded until they are immunized or wait out the 21 day incubation period.
“It certainly is not a decision that public health takes lightly.” Cindy Morgan is Communicable Disease Supervisor for Lane County. “We do know that if we exclude students then we tend to stop the spread of illness in that school population.”
Morgan acknowledges this is a tough time to be kept out of school with year-end and graduation approaching. She says most parents and students have been understanding of the public health response to this epidemic.