UPDATE 9/27/12 @ 4:42 p.m.
MASON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Some parents in Point Pleasant, W.Va. are on high alert after receiving two letters about the risk of exposure to sickness.
There have been three confirmed cases of whooping cough in Mason County.
Monday a letter went home to some Pt. Pleasant High School parents.
It reads, "your child has been identified as a possible contact while attending class at Point Pleasant High School. If your child has been determined to be a close contact of this student, you will be notified by the Mason County Health Department."
"The cooperation between the school and health department has been wonderful," says school nurse Laurie Johnson. "I don't think patents panicked because we gave them information right away."
Now, a second letter. This one waning some parents at Point Pleasant Primary, "there has been a confirmed case of hand, foot and mouth disease."
"It's a relatively common virus usually seen in the Spring and Fall" says County Heath Director Diana Riddles. "It's hard for parents to watch their children who may develop blisters on their hands, feet and in their mouths. But it's a virus, that within a week, usually runs it's course."
Health experts say regardless of sickness, virus, or disease, there are a few symptoms parents should watch out for:
Children should be symptom free for at least 24 hours before retuning to class to cut down on the risk of spreading illness.
Parents will have to follow through and make sure their second-graders are getting doses of antibiotics to ward off the symptoms of whooping cough.
"It's pretty serious, actually," says Jaqueline Wright. She took an hour off from her job to be at the elementary school on Tuesday. "It's scaring me because of my other children. I work in daycare, and I could potentially expose other kids to it."
The Cabell-Huntington Health Department visited Peyton Elementary to dispense antibiotics Tuesday.
The department says a second-grader has been exposed and treated, but that student's diagnosis is still not confirmed. As a precaution, that student's classmates are getting medication.
"We're not giving them the vaccine, we're giving them medication, as if they have pertussis," says Elizabeth Ayers with the Cabell-Huntington Health Department. "Giving it to them to prevent any symptoms. There's seven to 10 days where you could have the symptoms and not show symptoms for it."
Facebook posts claim the the antibiotics will now be distributed first thing Wednesday morning for the parents of second-graders at Peyton Elementary School.
"I'm a health professional and a mom" says Kristey Bolen. "There is nothing proven more effective at prevention than the vaccine."
Bolen rolled up her sleeve and was vaccinated on Tuesday afternoon. She concedes there are no guarantees.
"Just like the flu vaccine, it's only 80-85 percent effective" Bolen says "but people don't seem to realize how sick people can get who have whooping cough.
So far, this year, Kentucky has had 437 confirmed cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, as of September 14th 2012.
The FIVECO Region, on average, sees two or three cases a year" Bolen says "This year, we've already seen 12."
Coming up on First at Five, one health department heads to the classroom after a confirmed case of whooping cough.
What parents need to know to protect their children coming up on WSAZ's First at Five.
Monday, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department reported a possible case at Peyton Elementary School in Huntington.
Tuesday, the Health Department will be at the school giving medication to the teachers and students who may have been exposed. Parents will need to be at the school at 2 p.m. to get medication for their children.
In Mason County, West Virginia, a letter was sent out to parents of children at Point Pleasant Primary School.
According to the letter, the Mason County Health Department has been notified that a person attending the primary school was diagnosed with whooping cough.
The letter says, "If your child is known to have been directly exposed to pertussis (whooping cough), you will be contacted directly by the Mason County Health Department.
In Meigs County, Ohio, the health department has been keeping a close eye on whooping cough cases, their first cases since 2010.
The health department tells WSAZ.com that they had four confirmed cases in the county. Three people were from the same family, one was a student at Meigs Elementary School. The fourth case was a student at Rio Grand Community College. They say that there are no more cases and those who had been diagnosed have been treated.
If you have any concerns about whooping cough in your area, call your local health department.
The agency says it has contacted those families whose child may have potentially been exposed to the disease.
Tuesday, the Health Department will be at Peyton Elementary at 2 p.m. to give free medications to those student and teachers who could have been exposed. Parents/guardians will need to pick up the medicine for their child at that time.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) is a very contagious disease spread from person to person usually by coughing or sneezing during close contact with others.
According to a news release, the disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever.
After one to two weeks, severe coughing can begin. Unlike the common cold, whooping cough can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks.
Anyone with questions should call the Cabell-Huntington Health Department at 304-523-6483.
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