High incidence of pertussis leads to cancellation of all schools, activities and practices through winter break
STAR JOURNAL REPORT
At the Dec. 19 Board of Education meeting, Oneida County Health Department (OCHD) representatives and the school district’s nurse presented information relating to the recommendation to close school Dec. 19-21 and to cancel all student activities and practices until Jan. 2 due to the large number of staff members and students absent due to pertussis (whooping cough) illness.
Oneida County nurse Rob Deede told the crowd pertussis is not an easy illness to diagnose or identify. Someone could be spreading it for a full month before they are aware they are sick.
“After you are exposed to someone contagious, there is up to a 21-day incubation period,” Deede said. “So, three weeks you could potentially be brewing pertussis before you become contagious. Seven days leading up to the cough you are contagious and once you start coughing you are contagious for [another two to three weeks] or until five day antibiotics is taken.”
Representatives of the OCHD and the school district met again Dec. 20, reviewed all the data, research, and the recommendation to close school in an effort to confirm the decision to close schools and cancel all extra-curricular activities, including practices. Following is the message that the school district has received from OCHD after completion of the review:
“Oneida County Health Department’s recommendation for the maximum impact of curtailing the outbreak of pertussis in the Rhinelander School District is to remain closed until Jan. 2. This recommendation is not made lightly; it is based on data, research, and input from partners including the school and providers. We are concerned for the health and wellness of our teachers, students and community members. Although we recognize the impact this has had on the sports teams, the congregation of teams is proven by research to impede public health measures put in place to break the chain of communicability.
“In addition, we also recognize the many voices of our concerned citizens that appreciate the efforts of Public Health and the District in protecting our community. We would like to thank the Rhinelander School District and Board for their vigilance in monitoring symptoms of illness and their role in keeping our community healthy.”
The School District of Rhinelander will be following the recommendation of OCHD. All activities and practices remain canceled until January 2, 2017.