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Posted on Thu, May 23, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

Officials: 25 cases of confirmed whooping cough within AAPS

By Katrease Stafford

Twenty-five students within the Ann Arbor Public Schools have confirmed cases of whooping cough, according to a Washtenaw County Health Department official, and more are expected before the end of the school year.

AAPS spokesperson Liz Margolis said the whooping cough cases. also known as pertussis, have occurred during a month-long period. The cases have been reported at Pioneer High School, Slauson Middle School and Skyline High School.


File photo showing a young man receiving a whooping cough vaccination.

Jae C. Hong | The Associated Press

"Public health is working very closely with us on that," Margolis said. "Most of the students have gone through their rounds of medication." reported Saturday five students at Pioneer High School were diagnosed with pertussis.

Margolis said the county has told AAPS not to do anything out of the ordinary or in addition to their normal cleaning procedures.

"Most of the kids had some kind of connection where they had been near each other," Margolis said. "One of the large frustration for public health is that doctors haven’t been testing for this... They’re encouraging doctors to test for it. Our school nurses are really working and we're doing a lot of communicating to families. At this point, we're taking all of our leads from public health. We're sending information sheets home as we continue to hear cases."

Laura Bauman, epidemiologist at the Washtenaw County Public Health Department, said countywide including the AAPS cases, 32 have been confirmed. Bauman said that number is from a period between January 1 up until May 23.

In all of 2012, there were 28 cases, and in 2011 there were 26. Bauman said the county is expecting more cases before the end of the year. However, Bauman said it's too early to tell whether the numbers will reach the height of 2010 when the county had 232 confirmed cases.

"Once pertussis gets circulating, it gets going for awhile," Bauman said. "We certainly expect more cases during this school year, but we may see a dropoff during summer."

Bauman said pertussis can still spread during the summer due to a large number of children attending summer camps and other activities. Bauman said the numbers could spike again when children return to school in the fall.

Skyline principal Sulura W. Jackson sent an email out to parents Tuesday, informing them a student was diagnosed with pertussis and that can spread easily in schools.

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that can be severe, particularly in young children, Bauman said.

Bauman said since 2009, the county has seen an uptick in cases.

"In 2009 there were 89 cases and we had no idea that the next year was going to be four times that," Bauman said. "It seems to go in waves. Part of what's going on is 10 to 15 years ago, we switched over to a new vaccine called acellular pertussis. It's a good vaccine, but it doesn't look like it's as protective as the old vaccine."

Bauman said the old vaccine caused a lot of reactions in patients who received it.

Bauman, said the new vaccine is 80 percent effective, leaving room for 20 percent of people to still get sick despite receiving it. Some of the students diagnosed had received the vaccine.

"We definitely are seeing fully-vaccinated kids," Bauman said. "That's certainly frustrating for families who have done the right thing and vaccinated their kids and for us in public health. What we saw in 2010 is that once it gets a foothold, it can affect a lot of different people."

Bauman said having a well-vaccinated population will help curb the spread, but an occasional breakthrough will occur.

Bauman said those who are diagnosed with pertussis should stay home for the five days they're on antibiotics and often, family members are prescribed medicine as well to prevent a further spread.

Pertussis can affect anyone, ranging from infants to the elderly, Bauman said.

People of all ages are advised by the health department to call their physician if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Unusual cough lasting 7 days or more (with or without the signature "whooping" sound)
  • Sporadic bursts of coughing
  • Coughing-induced vomitting

The health department also is suggesting antibiotics for individuals exposed to the disease in the following categories:

  • All children sharing a childcare classroom with a preschool child who has pertussis
  • Anyone sharing a classroom or work space with someone with the disease
  • Infants less than 1 year old exposed to pertussis
  • Pregnant women exposed to the disease
  • People living with or working with infants and pregnant women who have been exposed to the disease
  • Immune-compromised people (those on chemotherapy or other drugs that affect one's immune system) who have been exposed
  • Anyone with a chronic respiratory disease, including asthma, who have been exposed
  • Anyone experiencing cold-like respiratory symptoms and that have been exposed to a person with pertussis are advised to stay home from school and work until they have completed at least five days of antibiotics.

The Washtenaw County Health Department's website has more information on pertussis and its symptoms. Bauman said the website likely will be updated once a week with new diagnosed cases.

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


Martha Andrews-Schmidt

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

I am a 69 year-old Ann Arbor resident who contracted Pertussis here in 2004. It went undiagnosed. In the very early days of the illness I thought sure that the symptoms merely indicated a mild cold, so I went ahead with plans to travel to California to visit family. Over the next few weeks the symptoms intensified, and most of my family came down with it too. When my 11 year-old niece started vomiting with nearly every round of coughing her parents took her to the local ER where an observant nurse took a culture. Bingo: Whooping Cough! Sofie was the last to contract it and the first to recover, but the adults took much longer. I coughed so violently that I broke blood vessels in both eyes. It took me four months to recover. In 2004 very few in the medical community were aware that Pertussis was making a comeback. Since then a booster vaccine was developed for people who were vaccinated as kids. Since immunity lasts for as little as a decade, I would strongly recommend the booster. Trust me, you do NOT want to catch this disease.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 5:44 a.m.

Parents have the right to NOT vaccinate their children... They also have the right to HOMESCHOOL them as well!!!


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:18 a.m.

Had a flu shot; got flu so bad spent a couple days in the hospital. Had pertussis vaccine, got whooping cough. I'm safer on my own.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 6:15 a.m.

Science > anecdotal evidence from a lay-person.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 5:43 a.m.

But there are still cases out there of 20 or 30 something's who died from either influenza or pertussis...and maybe one of them thought the same way as you are now...just saying...


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 4:19 a.m.

Highly unlikely given that the mortality rate generally affects children (specifically infants), but if you'd like to imagine that fine.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 4:01 a.m.

It doesn't work for all but imagine how bad it might have been without the vaccine at all in up your system... Could have been fatal...?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:18 a.m.

Channel Four News has been reporting on this for a month. Funny how this is the first story on the outbreak in the home town paper.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:18 a.m.

1,000 thumbs up.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3 a.m.

flu vaccines do not help you 'recover' from the flu faster. If you get a flu shot, it MAY prevent you from getting that strain of flu. It doesn't help you recover faster. Further, if you receive a flu shot that covers flu A, you can still get flu B, C and D.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:40 a.m.

These cases are from vaccinated kids. So much for the regimen of unnecessary shots on our babies with high incidences of autism from said regimen...Who can guess the number of deaths versus inoculations every year in the U.S..? The number of deaths is infinitesimal and those that do succumb have additional immune compromisations . But the number of bad reactions to the pertussis shot is great. And so Big Pharma tries to scare sheeple into vaccinating against diseases that are treatable without vaccinations. Read up on each and every shot that you give your babies..Inoculate but S P R E A D them out!!


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

One of my kids got chicken pox in elementary school. The whole class was vaccinated except ONE kid. That ONE kid got it really bad, and missed several days if school, miserable with risk of scarring, etc. The rest of the kids had one to ten spots, missed a couple days, no bother. I had a titter drawn with other blood work later, and my kid is immune. I still have scars from having it in childhood.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 8:08 a.m.

The vaccine-autism link was based on fraudulent research. And the alleged "research" was based on 12 children.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 6:13 a.m.

This scientifically-illiterate stance is dangerous to public health.

Mr. Me

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:39 a.m.

Too many "educated" parents in this town think vaccines harm their child and don't get them. It's garbage science, and it's only a matter of time until someone dies from one of these diseases that had been all but eradicated once.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 5:47 a.m.

...then the parents of he unvaccinated child will try to figure out who to sue for the death of their child from a disease that could have been prevented...

West Side Mom

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

4 cases this week at Forsythe


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.

Well, I'm a Forsythe parent, have been for MANY years, and I did NOT receive an email. Which means others did not either. I get the emails about newsletters, etc.

Anonymous Commentor

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:21 a.m.

I'm a Forsyth parent, and I received an email notification from the principle today.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:22 a.m.

Good thing the administration at Forsythe doesn't let you know what the health concerns are, consistency is important. No notification, as usual.

Ann English

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:17 a.m.

Scary enough to read that a student at nearby Skyline has it. Hope the Forsythe students didn't catch it from some high school bully or from a Wines elementary student who doesn't even know that he or she has it; radio ads say that pertussis can be spread to kids from adults who don't even know they have it. It was over on the EAST side of town that a high school boy attacked one or two Scarlett Middle School students.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 10:40 p.m.

I beg to differ, seems to me that the vaccination be administered is flu, not whooping cough.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:59 a.m.

It's called DTaP- diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

Ann English

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:13 a.m.

Something I hoped to read, but didn't, is that a pertussis vaccine helps shorten the amount of time someone has pertussis; we know that flu vaccines DO in fact, shorten the amount of time someone has flu; they help people recover faster.

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:27 p.m.

They have whooping cough, not flu. Flu vaccinations have no effect on whooping cough.

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 10:22 p.m.

Too many parents think that because a disease has not been around, it won't come around, so why have their children vaccinated? The reason the diseases don't surface is because caring, smart parents make sure their children are protected against whatever might show up. Sadly, it's not the faulty parent who gets the disease, but their innocent kids who have had no say in their own protection.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 8:31 p.m.

get those kids to do a better job cleaning the school.

Gretchen Ridenour

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

Is there any word on whether these students had their childhood pertussis vaccinations? Just wondering.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

"...the new vaccine is 80 percent effective...Some of the students diagnosed had received the vaccine... Though, in this instance, I wonder how many kids received the vaccine.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

Please vaccinate your kids, people.

Ryan Bowles

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:25 a.m.

And if you do read any and all info before vaccinations, you will quickly realize that vaccinating your kids is one of the smartest acts of parenting you can do.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:44 a.m.

Please read any and all info before vaccinations.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

"Slauson elementary"? Slauson is a middle school. Correction required?

Katrease Stafford

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

Ozzer, thanks. The story has been updated to reflect that.