Immediate Release


Ken Fanelli

800 Park Avenue

June 2, 2020

Utica, NY  13502


‘Whooping Cough’ Reported in Area Schools  

        Eight cases of pertussis, a highly contagious respiratory disease commonly known as Whooping Cough, have been reported locally since May 19th, Oneida County Health Department officials said today. Laboratory tests confirmed the Bordetella bacterium that causes the disease in three cases, while the others involve persons who are symptomatic of the illness.

         “Four cases involve students attending two area schools including three cases at Deerfield Elementary and one at Whitesboro  High School,” said Eric Faisst, Director of Health.  Faisst added, “The other four cases involve adults in the community, two of whom are employed at the New Hartford School ’s Oxford Road complex”  

        The Oneida County Health Department is working closely with the three schools in notifying parents whose children attend.  Letters advising parents of the reported illness are being sent home with students today.  Additionally, the health department is alerting area physicians to the occurrence of pertussis in the area in order to facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of any patients presenting symptoms.  

        Although pertussis can occur at any age, it generally affects children younger than 5 years and is most severe in infants under 1 year of age. Only 15% of all reported cases occur in children over 15 years old. There has been an increase in reported cases of pertussis among adolescents and adults in recent years and a steady increase of reported cases overall in New York State .  

        The first symptoms of pertussis are similar to those of a common cold and include runny nose, sneezing, mild cough and low-grade fever. After 1 to 2 weeks, the dry persistent cough evolves into coughing spells which can last for more than a minute and cause the affected person to turn red-faced or purple. A high-pitched whooping sound or wheeze at the end of a coughing spell characterizes the illness.  These coughing episodes can continue for one to two months and  are more common at night. pertussis can be spread by direct contact with discharge from the nose or throat of an infected person from the onset of symptoms to 3 weeks after the onset of coughing. Treatment with antibiotics is effective and will shorten the period of communicability.  

        “If left untreated, pertussis can result in complications including pneumonia, middle ear infections, loss of appetite, dehydration, brief periods of cessation of breathing, disorders of the brain and even death,” said Dr. Susan Blatt, Medical. Consultant for the Oneida County Health Department. Blatt continued, “Once treatment is begun, children should be kept home from school for at least the first five days of antibiotic therapy.”  

        Faisst stressed that prompt diagnosis and treatment can reduce the spread of the disease and parents should ensure that their child’s immunizations are up-to-date.  

        For more information contact the Oneida County Health Department at 798-5064 or go to the web-site at