Students at Seattle's Ingraham High School diagnosed with whooping cough

SEATTLE -- At least two students at Ingraham High School have been diagnosed with whooping cough in the last few days, according to school administrators.

Officials sent a letter to parents Thursday alerting them that in addition to the two confirmed cases, there are several more suspected cases of pertussis.

“One student was diagnosed through our teen health center and was sent home,” Ingraham High School Principal Martin Floe said Thursday night. “One student was diagnosed outside the system.”

That’s why the school district decided to send a letter home to parents Thursday. They say whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection and when it started spreading at Roosevelt High School last fall, more than a dozen students got sick.

“Our goal, with two confirmed cases, is to get on top of it,” Floe said.

Parents told Q13 FOX News that they appreciate the school being pro-active and alerting them.

“I think communication is always the key to success,” said Wade Bartlett, “as long as you’re being honest and putting forth a non-scare tactic.”

“As long as it’s done with caution and not over-alarming,” agreed Tom Atkins.

He said he will be keeping a closer eye on his kids’ health now that he knows about this outbreak.

“My youngest son is prone to different ailments, respiratory ailments, so I sure will.”

Doctors say they’ve seen more cases of whooping cough in western Washington in the last few years, and getting vaccinated is the best way to stop the spread.

“There’s a safe, effective vaccine to prevent it,” said Dr. Chris Baliga, with Virginia Mason Medical Center. “If you get vaccinated, you’re going to keep yourself safe, your family safe, and you’ll keep those around us who haven’t been vaccinated safe.”

Infants are most at risk for pertussis, and can be hospitalized if they become sick. But for most teens and adults, they can be treated with antibiotics. They stop being contagious after about five days.

Whooping cough is an upper-respiratory infection that is characterized by coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and occasional vomiting that later progresses into a loud, exhausting cough.

School administrators also encouraged vigorous and frequent hand washing to help protect against whooping cough.

Public Health - Seattle and King County provided this fact sheet with more information about whooping cough.