October 3, 2006

News Brief: Student Recovers from Whooping Cough

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A Cornell student was recently diagnosed with whooping cough; the student was one of several people found to have the uncommon respiratory infection in Tompkins County.

The student has been treated and is doing well, according to health department officials. The individuals who were most at risk of infections were identified by the student and received treatment.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a contagious bacterial infection in the respiratory tract that can spread by coughing or sneezing. There is also high risk of infection for those who have been within a three-foot radius of the infected individual. The symptoms of whooping cough seem similar to those of a common cold, including runny nose, fever, and a cough, although within a few weeks, the cough becomes more severe and may be followed by a high-pitched whooping sound or even vomiting and discharging of a thick, clear mucous.

Cornellians are advised to stay alert to these symptoms. Pertussis can be treated by antibiotics and early detection is key to shortening recovery time and reducing the chance of spreading the infection.

“When more serious or persistent symptoms develop that suggest the possibility of pertussis or other significant illness, we urge people not to delay seeking evaluation by a health-care provider,” said Janet Corson-Rikert, director of Gannett Health Services, in a statement. She also emphasized the importance of good personal hygiene habits and the need to wash one’s hands.