Whooping cough outbreak spreads in LA – hitting 30 teens at exclusive $40,000-a-year private school
- 60 teens have contracted whooping cough in LA County since November
- But now, 30 cases have sprung up at Harvard-Westlake, with students being sent home from the $40,000-a-year school
An outbreak of whooping cough is spreading across Los Angeles, now hitting an exclusive private school.
About 60 teenagers had been diagnosed with the viral respiratory infection in LA County since last November.
But now, 30 cases have sprung up at Harvard-Westlake, prompting school nurses to send kids home from the $40,000-a-year establishment to curb the spread.
Whooping cough has hit Harvard-Westlake school (pictured), health officials say
Public health officials say they do not believe that this is fueled by a lack of vaccinations, as is the case with the measles outbreak.
At Harvard-Westlake, for example, only 18 of the 1,600 students had foregone vaccines, including the crucial Tdap that helps to fend off whooping cough.
But vaccine effectiveness does fade after five to 10 years, putting the 16- to 18-year-olds at higher risk than younger immunized kids.
‘We have gone above and beyond,’ Ari Engelberg, spokesman for the Department of Health for LA County, told City News Service.
‘We’ve been doing everything that we possibly can…we’re as upset and concerned about our kids getting whooping cough as anyone else would be.’
Concerns about whooping cough have been growing in recent years as the rates of diagnoses and fatalities have climbed.
Whooping cough is known clinically as pertussis, earning its catchy name from the ‘whoop’ sound that sufferers make when they cough.
It is rarely fatal in teens and adults, who have built-up immunity, but it can be fatal in infants. What’s more, treating it and tracking down people affected is no small feat for public health officials.
The vaccine has helped to curb rates, though experts warn it is imperfect. It’s likely there are other factors at play, but it’s not clear what.