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Wrestlers have whooping cough at state tournament | IMS deals with bout of flu

Fifteen people who attended the WIAA 2009 Mat Classic wrestling tournament, Feb. 20-21, at the Tacoma Dome had whooping cough, according to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).

The wrestlers, coaching staff and spectators at the event who have confirmed cases of pertussis (whooping cough) are from Kittitas and Pacific Counties, but the event attracted people from around the state and the DOH is urging people to be on the lookout. Approximately 15 cases have been confirmed.

Joy Dunne, the MIHS nurse, said none of the students at the school have symptoms and that health officials will let the district know if any further action needs to take place, but at this point it is unlikely.

The DOH is encouraging anyone who attended the tournament and who now has cold symptoms or a cough, or anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has whooping cough to contact a health care provider.

Pertussis is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing with initial symptoms of sneezing, a runny nose, low-grade fever and a mild cough. Within two weeks, that cough can become severe and develop into coughing spells following by a high-pitched whoop, according to DOH. Anyone infected can spread the disease from the onset of symptoms until about three weeks after the coughing starts. Antibiotics are used to reduce the contagious period.

Health officials have said that there are other cases of whooping cough throughout the state which are unrelated to the tournament. During 2007, 482 cases of whooping cough were reported in Washington with 130 in King County, according to the “Washington State Communicable Disease Report 2007.” There were no deaths related to this disease in 2007. Whooping cough is considered a notifiable disease in Washington, requiring immediate notification to health care officials when cases are suspected and confirmed.

Vaccinations are available and recommended for children and adults. Babies and young children are most at risk for getting the disease, as well as suffering serious complications.

More information on pertussis is available online at www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/Immunize/diseases/pertussis.

Teachers, parents and students at Islander Middle School dealt with a bout of sickness last week, which kept large numbers of students from attending school.

Kay Johnson, who works in the office at IMS, said that throughout the week, large numbers of students stayed home or went home sick. She said Monday and Tuesday were the worst days, with almost 18 percent of the student population sick, but as the week progressed, the numbers went down. Eighteen percent is equal to approximately 180 students in the school. Johnson said recently that a couple of the elementary schools had the same problem, but reported after a week that everyone was back to normal.

“It’s gone way down,” said Johnson on March 6 of absentee numbers. It was expected that most sick students would feel better following the weekend.

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