'Whooping cough', pertussis outbreak reported in Minnetonka schools

Minnetonka High School (FOX 9).  (FOX 9)

Minnetonka Public Schools notified families about an outbreak of pertussis, commonly known as "whooping cough", after students at Minnetonka High School and Minnetonka Middle West were diagnosed with the disease.

The message also stated there were "a few isolated cases at Excelsior Elementary and Clear Springs Elementary."

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said in a letter attached to the school's message that symptoms can include a "runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and possibly a low-grade fever." The cough then worsens to "uncontrollable bursts" which can lead to vomiting and a "high-pitched whooping noise." 

Parents should call a healthcare provider if their child has been coughing for three days or more.

Minnetonka Public Schools added that most of the students diagnosed were fully immunized, but pointed out that vaccines are "not foolproof" despite reducing the severity and length of illness. MDH said protection from vaccines "can decrease over time" and encouraged the public to stay current on shots.  

Health officials say the disease can be serious for young children as well as people who are immunocompromised. 

MDH said that anyone diagnosed with pertussis should not go to school, work or any other activities until they are treated with five days of antibiotics or if they have been coughing for more than three weeks. The disease is reportedly not contagious after the third week. In some cases, the cough can continue for up to three months. 

Parents with more questions about the disease are encouraged to reach out to the nurse at their child's school or reach out to the MDH through 1-877-676-5414. 

More information on pertussis or "whooping cough" can be found here