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Morris County School student diagnosed with "very contagious" whooping cough

A student at Chatham High School has been diagnosed with whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory disease, the district superintendent announced on Monday.

There is also another student suspected of having the disease, also called whooping cough, said the superintendent of the Chatham School District, Michael LaSusa, in the letter.

"If your child has been around a person with whooping cough, he or she could be affected," wrote LaSusa. "This is especially true if your child is not up to date with his pertussis vaccines."

Pertussis can spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, two of the main symptoms

People who catch it may have a series of severe coughing fits, which often worsen at night, followed immediately by vomiting, blueness or difficulty breathing, LaSusa explained. Cough medicines do not usually stop it.

Any student or family member of a student with these symptoms was asked to call his doctor, he said.

Pertussis can affect people of any age, but can be very serious or even fatal for babies under one year old, the CDC said.

The pertussis vaccine has only recently been given to children under seven, but a booster shot for adolescents and adults is now available for people aged 10 and older, LaSusa said.

The director stated that the district would inform parents if any other cases were reported.

"We continue to monitor the situation at school and if we had to take additional measures to combat the spread of whooping cough among students, we will inform parents again," he said.

This is the second case of whooping cough reported by a school district in the past two months.

In January, two students from the Summit Public School District were diagnosed with the condition.

Chris Sheldon can be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @ chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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