For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Oxarart
775.328.2414 or 775.276.1021
UPDATE 5 p.m., Oct. 22: An updated letter to parents that clarifies information can be found here.
Reno, Nev. Oct. 21, 2019 – The Washoe County Health District (WCHD) has confirmed four cases of pertussis at Bishop Manogue High School, with other cases listed as probable. The school is cooperating with the Health District and agreed to close the school until Monday, Oct. 28, in order protect the students and staff.
Pertussis, also known as “whooping cough,” is a highly-contagious respiratory disease known for uncontrollable, violent coughing that makes it hard to breathe.
“This outbreak is very serious and should serve as a reminder to make sure you and your family are up to date with the pertussis vaccine,” Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick said. “We appreciate the diligence of Bishop Manogue leadership in making students and staff the number one priority. We will continue to work closely with the school until this matter is resolved.”
The Health District sent out a letter to parents or guardians of Bishop Manogue students to alert them of the exposure to whooping cough and recommendations. The school has already prepared its facilities for cleaning and has cancelled/postponed all athletic and academic events. Students participating in postseason, regional and state tournament play have been granted an exemption if the following three conditions are met:
- Students cannot be exhibiting any signs or symptoms of pertussis
- Students must be vaccinated
- Students must be on a physician prescribed prophylaxis
“Bishop Manogue is taking appropriate precaution and working with the Washoe County Health District to protect our students and staff,” Bishop Manogue Principal Brianne Thoreson said. “We’re committed to limiting exposure and minimizing the spread of this disease to ensure the continued safety of our school community.”
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be fatal for babies under 1. The CDC recommends two vaccines to help prevent whooping cough: DTaP for children younger than 7, and Tdap for older children, teens and adults. These vaccines also provide protection against tetanus and diphtheria.
Whooping cough is fairly common in the United States. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, fever and a mild cough. Severe coughing spells can begin after a week or two
Closing the school is expected to reduce transmission of the disease and the number of cases occurring. Bishop Manogue and the Health District will be working closely to monitor student and staff symptoms, and cases that may occur, and evaluate whether further actions are required.
Particular attention is being paid to confirmed cases who are, or might be, in contact with infants. According to the CDC, more than half of children under 1 year of age who have pertussis have to be hospitalized, and most of them get it from siblings and parents. Pertussis causes about 10-15 deaths a year in the United States.
To schedule a DTap or Tdap vaccine, or get information on costs, call the Health District Immunization Program at 775-328-2402, your local physician or medical provider. More information about pertussis can be found on the WCHD website and on the CDC website.
Note: Media interviews with WCHD officials will be granted at opening of business Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 8 a.m.
The Washoe County Health District has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making Washoe County District Board of Health. The District consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. To learn more, visit https://www.washoecounty.us/health/