ROCKVILLE- At least 12 Montgomery County Public School students are being treated for pertussis, or whooping cough. School officials said the infected children may have attended Capital Camp in Wayne, Pa.
According to school officials, the students attend Robert Frost Middle School, Julius West Middle School, Cabin John Middle School and Cold Spring Elementary School. More than 200 Montgomery County children are said to have attended the camp, which is headquartered in Rockville.
Capital Camp CEO John Gellar said all students must complete a medical form, including an immunization record, before registration. Gellar said parents were notified immediately after the whooping cough diagnosis.
According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, 17,325 cases of whooping cough were diagnosed in the United States from Jan. 1-Aug. 16, 2014 with 196 being diagnosed in Maryland – a 30 percent increase since 2013.
“Since almost all children get their whooping cough vaccines and protection is not long-lasting, many reported cases of the disease are in those who have been vaccinated,” said Allison Albert, spokeswoman for the CDC. “Getting vaccinated is still the best way to prevent whooping cough and its complications. Those who get a whooping cough vaccine and still get whooping cough are much more likely to have a mild illness compared to those who never received the vaccine. If someone in the household has been diagnosed with whooping cough, other household members can be given preventive antibiotics.”
Mary Anderson, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, said all of the infected children are vaccinated against the disease. According to statistics from Joan Glick, the administrator of school health services, only 773 MCPS students were exempt from vaccination requirements because of religious or medical reasons.
“It hasn’t really been much of a factor here,” Anderson said.
Albert said whooping cough is still highly contagious even in children who have been vaccinated. Children who are diagnosed with or suspected of having whooping cough are being kept out of school for five days after receiving antibiotics. Anderson said no new cases have been reported but symptoms may not appear for more than two weeks once a person has been infected.
“It’s highly contagious and if parents feel like their kids are showing symptoms, they should take them to the doctors so they can have the diagnosis confirmed and get on treatment right away so they don’t spread it,” Anderson said.