Two cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, have been reported at a north suburban preschool.
The Evanston Health & Human Services Department confirmed Monday that two students at Unity Preschool tested positive for the illness.
Unity Preschool temporarily suspended all of activities Thursday and Friday “out of the abundance of caution,” according to the school’s director Katie Martin. Officials at the school also conducted an extensive cleaning.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial illness. It initially resembles an ordinary cold but can turn more serious, especially in infants and young children.
Symptoms typically do not appear until five to 10 days after initial exposure but can take as long as 21 days, according to the CCDPH. Symptoms include those similar to a common cold, including a runny nose, sneezing, and a low-grade fever.
Those infected with pertussis may experience coughing fits particularly at night, and vomiting after coughing, according to the CCDPH. The cough associated with pertussis can last several weeks.
Whooping cough is easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing, but preventable with proper vaccination.
“We’ve asked that any student exhibiting cold-like symptoms visit a doctor before returning to school,” Martin said.
David Weintraub’s son and daughter attend Unity Preschool. He and his wife are two of the many parents who received a letter informing them of the outbreak.
"I feel like they’re handling it the best they can," Weintraub said. "From the beginning they’ve been very communicative with the parents helping us understand what was going on, what symptoms to look for and letting us know how they were handling it and why they were taking the positions they were."
Individual cases of whooping cough have been reported this month at Warren Township High School in Gurnee and Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook.
Dr Kenneth Fox, a pediatrician at North Shore University Health System, said the best defense is to get your family vaccinated and make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
"For people who are unprotected, if you’re exposed to this germ, there’s a 9 out of 10 chance you’re going to get the illness," Fox said.