February 6, 2018
Dear Parents and Guardians,
This letter is to inform you that your child may have been exposed to a person who has had a positive pertussis test at Montclair High School. We are sending this letter to make you aware of this exposure and to provide additional information about pertussis.
What is Pertussis?
Pertussis is an infection that affects the airways and is easily spread from person-to-person by coughing or sneezing. Pertussis begins with cold symptoms and a cough, which becomes much worse over 1-2 weeks. Symptoms usually include a long series of coughing fits followed by a whooping noise. The cough is often worse at night, and cough medicines usually do not help alleviate the cough. However, older children, adults and very young infants many not develop the whoop. There is generally only a slight fever. People with pertussis may have a series of severe coughing fits followed immediately by vomiting, turning blue, or difficulty catching breath.
What should you do if exposed to pertussis?
While vaccination against pertussis is the best protection against the infection, vaccinated individuals may still become infected. If your child experiences pertussis symptoms, talk to your child’s health care provider immediately. Please inform the health care provider that pertussis has been identified at your child’s school. Please do not send your child to school if he/she has any signs or symptoms of pertussis. If your child has religious or medical exemptions from immunizations, please contact his/her health care provider for guidance.
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) recommends providing post-exposure antibiotic treatment to persons within 21 days of exposure to an infectious pertussis case who are at high risk of severe illness or who will have close contact with a person at high risk of severe illness. (This is regardless of age or vaccination status) These include:
- Infants and women in their third trimester of pregnancy
- All persons with pre-existing health conditions that may be worsened by a pertussis infection
- Contacts who themselves have close contact with either infants, pregnant women, or persons with pre-existing health conditions
If you have any questions about this situation, please call the Montclair Health Department at 973-509-4970 or the Montclair Public Schools Office of Nursing Services at 973-973-509-4000 ext. 6514. For more information about pertussis, visit the Department of Health website:
We will continue to monitor the situation at school, and if additional actions to control the spread of pertussis become necessary, we will again notify parents/guardians.