BIG RAPIDS – Ferris State University officials became aware of a confirmed case of pertussis (whooping cough) in a student this week. The student is being treated with antibiotics and is no longer believed to be contagious.
However, as a precautionary measure, Birkam Health Center staff are identifying and notifying employees and students who have had regular contact with the student, and they will be offered a free Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) vaccine. Others who aren’t contacted, but who exhibit symptoms of pertussis such as uncontrollable, 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 health center business hours from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the exception of Thursday when the center closes at 3:30 p.m.
Paul Sullivan, director of the Birkam Health and Counseling Center, reported that pertussis is a highly contagious disease only found in humans and is spread from person to person. People with 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 being exposed, but sometimes not for as long as six weeks.
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 that a fully vaccinated person, of any age, can catch this very contagious disease. The infection is usually less severe for those who have been vaccinated.
For more information about pertussis, call the Birkam Health Center at (231) 591-2614.