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Feb 06, 2016; 1:57 AM ET
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FOX 13 Tampa Headlines

Minneola parents warned of whooping cough case

Parents at Lake Minneola High School found an automated voice message on their phones which included a warning from the school principal. "Parents, I am calling to let you know one student has pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough," the message stated.

Privacy laws prevent the school from releasing much information on the student, but as Giselle Barreto, with the Florida Health Department in Lake County, tells us, "When he was symptomatic, he wasn't in school." Because of that, Barreto says health officials are more concerned about the student's contact at home.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is spread by droplets, so longer periods of exposure to someone infected as they cough, sneeze, kiss you, touch you, or share utensils or drinking glasses, seriously increases your odds of contracting it. But because pertussis can be extremely dangerous and even fatal to some in the population -- in particular infants -- health officials are exhaustive in their attempts to prevent its spread.

Barreto says, "Parents of the individuals who were in that class were notified by letter to look out for the next 21 days. Most individuals will become symptomatic within 10 to 21 days after exposure."

Symptoms include a persistent, hard cough...often with a whistle or "whoop" but NOT always, a runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and low grade fever. A blood test or throat swab can be used to diagnose.

The pertussis vaccine is a regularly scheduled vaccination for babies, but because the potency wanes over time boosters are recommended. Barreto says, "If you are planning to get pregnant or are an individual like a grandmother or grandfather it's prudent to have the vaccination redone just to give you that boost of immunity."

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