According to Marion County Public Health Director Kim Dorn, Knoxville Schools are experiencing an outbreak of pertussis or whooping cough. Dorn says the number of confirmed cases has been minimal and a letter signed by Public Health RN Judi Van Hulzen has been sent to the middle and high schools indicating the warning signs of the disease. Pertussis is spread through the air when infected people cough and involves two states of symptoms.
Those recently diagnosed with pertussis will be excluded from school until they have completed five full days of antibiotic therapy or have not coughed for 21 days. Those living in the same household of diagnosed cases should receive antibiotics to prevent additional infections but can stay active in school.
Prior to the outbreak, Marion County Public Health had arranged to administer free Tdap vaccinations on May 10th, which is recommended for all children 11-18 years of age. A consent form is required for students to be able to receive the vaccination. Anyone with questions is asked to call Marion County Public Health at 828-2238.