Whooping Cough Spreads Through Radnor Schools, New Cases Reported

A whooping cough outbreak in the Radnor Township School District has spread to four more children this week, district officials say.

Seven high school students have been diagnosed with pertussis, the formal name for the respiratory infection, since March 20. District officials said four of those confirmed cases were reported between Monday and Thursday.

An eighth student, who attends Radnor Middle School, came down with the infection in February, administrators said.

The highly-contagious disease gets its name from the whooping sound a person makes during violent coughing fits. The bacterial infection, which is preventable through a vaccine, usually begins with cold-like symptoms before the coughing fits begin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It typically affects young children and infants.

District officials said six of the seven high school students were vaccinated against the illness. However, vaccines are not always 100 percent effective.

Out of the entire Radnor High School student body, seven teens are exempt from vaccination for medical, religious or philosophical reasons, officials said.

The district has stepped up cleaning efforts within the high school to prevent the disease from spreading. They are also working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to monitor the outbreak.

Schools in Pennsylvania are required to report the immunization status of all students to the Department of Health yearly so officials can ascertain potential immunity weaknesses when an outbreak happens. An NBC10 investigation found that system was flawed and officials say they're now working to fix the problem.

Radnor school administrators are asking parents to keep an eye out for symptoms like a runny nose, coughing spells and vomiting for the next two weeks.

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