School closes early after whooping cough outbreak
STUDENTS at St Mary's Catholic School at Goondiwindi will not be returning to the classroom for the remainder of the term after the school reported a whooping cough outbreak.
The year was due to conclude on Wednesday at the school, which is located about 200km west of Warwick.
The decision was made on advice from the Public Health Physician for Darling Downs Health Services and the school will now reopen from the start of the 2019 school year.
State schools in Goondiwindi have not experienced the level of infection that has hit St Marys but the Department of Education is working with Queensland Health to actively monitor the levels of incidence across the community.
Whooping cough is a notifiable disease under the Public Health Act.
In adults or adolescents this infection causes a chronic cough with a distinctive whooping sound.
In babies and young children the whooping sound is usually not heard and the cough can be life threatening.
Anyone who is not immunised is at risk of catching whooping cough, however, some groups are at higher risk of catching whooping cough or of developing complications, these include:
- Any person who is not immunised (this includes people who have not had a booster vaccine in the past 10 years)
- Infants under six months of age
- Pregnant women
- People over 65 years of age
A person is infectious for around 21 days from the start of symptoms.
If the infected person is treated with antibiotics (medication) they will be infectious for the first 5 days of treatment.
The cough will persist for several weeks, however, once treated with antibiotics the bacteria (germs) are killed and the person is no longer infectious.
Children should remain away from school, day care, child care, pregnant mothers and infants under 6 months until they are no longer at risk of spreading the infection to others.
This will depend on if antibiotic treatment has been provided.
To assist in the management of this outbreak, people with any symptoms should immediately consult their medical practitioner.
Information about whooping cough is available from Queensland Health at www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au.
The school has advised the health and safety of students, staff and the community remains a priority and they will continue to take the advice of public health officials in monitoring and managing this situation.