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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Whooping cough found in Medfield

MEDFIELD

A Medfield High School student was diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough, yesterday, and school officials have asked four other students who may have been exposed to the illness to stay home until Monday to prevent the disease from spreading.

The ill student was a member of a junior varsity soccer team, said Mary Patch, high school nurse. Four team members who may have exhibited early symptoms of the illness have been asked to stay home and take antibiotics.

Pertussis symptoms start off similar to those of a cold and include a runny nose, sneezing and cough; all of which gradually worsen.

The cough continues to intensify and can lead to spells during which the person has difficulty breathing and can cause other health problems. After several weeks the illness fades away.

The illness infects people through germs that spread via sneezing, coughing or talking. Pertussis is most dangerous to infants younger than one year of age, older individuals, and people with compromised immune systems, such as chemotherapy patients.

More information is available by calling the state Department of Public Health at (617) 983-6800, the local Board of Health at (508) 359-8585, extension 604, or checking the state health department's Web site, mass.gov/dph.

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