Pertussis (whooping cough) identified in student

Individuals urged to contact Birkam if they display symptoms

A case of Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, was identified in a student this week by Ferris officials.

The student is currently being treated with antibiotics and is no longer contagious, but staff at Birkam Health Center are identifying and notifying employees and students who have been in close contact with the student and will be offered a free Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) vaccine.

Anyone who displays symptoms of pertussis, which consists of uncontrollable and violent coughing, should contact the Birkam Health Center for further evaluation and treatment by a physician. Students who have not paid their health fee will be responsible for paying this fee even though there is no charge for the Tdap vaccine.

Vaccines will be offered during the health centers’ regular clinic hours. Students are instructed to call ahead to obtain abbreviated hours during the break (between spring and summer semesters). Regular clinic hours apply during summer semester.

Paul Sullivan, director of the Birkam Health and Counseling Center, said pertussis is a highly contagious disease only found in humans and is spread via person to person contact. People who have pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria.

Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within seven to 10 days after exposure, but in some cases, it can take up to six weeks for symptoms to develop.

Birkam Officials said pertussis vaccines are very effective in protecting individuals from disease, but no vaccine is 100 percent effective. If pertussis is circulating in the community, there is a chance a person who is fully vaccinated of any age can develop the disease. The infection is usually less severe for those who have been vaccinated.

For information about pertussis, call the Birkam Health Center at x2614. Additional information can be found at or the Birkam Health Center website, which is linked from