DRAPER, Utah (News4Utah) The Salt Lake County Health Department reported a pertussis outbreak in the Canyons School District.
Ten confirmed cases of pertussis, also called whooping cough, hit the district in the Draper area last week.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” Canyons School District Spokesperson Jeff Haney said.
The contagious bacteria infected at least five students at Corner Canyon High School, two at Draper Park Middle School and three at Oak Hollow Elementary, according to the Salt Lake County Health Department.
“This is the first time that I can recall in the nine years that Canyon School District has been in existence where we’ve had so many cases in a short period of time,” said Haney.
Pertussis presents itself as a lingering cold but can last up to ten weeks according to Utah Department of Health Epidemiologist Bree Barbeau. It’s preventable through a series of childhood vaccines but can be deadly, especially in infants.
“Some symptoms might include wheezing, vomiting after coughing, and it can lead to a lack of breath after you’ve coughed,” said Barbeau.
Doctors advise the best way to prevent it is called “social distancing,” which is exactly what is happening this week during spring recess.
“We are hoping that people take this spring recess to just rest, get better and get healthy. So when spring recess is over, come Monday morning, everyone will be healthy and ready to return to school,” Haney said.
Salt Lake County Health Department continues to keep an eye on the outbreak and may ask students who are not up-to-date on their vaccinations to avoid school until it’s subsided.
District employees have also been asked to gather vaccination applications just in case the outbreak gets worse.