16 students at Milwaukee south side school ill with whooping cough

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16 students at Milwaukee south side school ill with whooping cough

By Steve Chamraz & WTMJ News Team. CREATED Apr 18, 2012 - UPDATED: Apr 19, 2012

MILWAUKEE- Milwaukee's health department has confirmed a pertussis cluster investigation at St. Matthias Parish School on Milwaukee's south side.

St. Matthias staff noticed a pattern of illnesses over Easter break and began sending notices home to parents.

In all, 16 students were sick with whooping cough.  That is nearly one-third of the 55 cases the city of Milwaukee has seen since January. 

"These cut across many grades and many classrooms and we work close with the school," explained Paul Biedrzycki, Milwaukee's Director of Disease Control.  "We've had pertussis circulating and simmering in the region over the last eight months to a year."

Biedrzycki is urging parents to take precautions including keeping kids home from school if they are sick being vigilant about hand washing.

In addition, he would like to see every child in Milwaukee immunized against pertussis.

"25 percent of this cluster have not received their booster vaccination, which may explain the infection rate."

St. Matthias parent Donna Spahn said her boys are feeling fine, but she is watching them for symptoms.

She is also making sure they wash their hands.

"We're always on them for that and even more so now, knowing what's going on and trying to be cautious," she said.

"There was a list of precautions, what to look for.  Contact your doctor immediately if you see any symptoms.

Meanwhile, TODAY'S TMJ4 reports that there have been no serious illnesses yet; most people recover quickly after a five day course of antibiotics.