Bend-La Pine Schools officials on Monday notified parents of Summit High School students that students may have been exposed to pertussis recently.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a contagious respiratory disease that is especially dangerous for infants. It begins as a mild upper respiratory infection resembling the common cold, but within two weeks becomes more severe, with episodes of rapid coughing followed by a high-pitched whooping sound, according to information sent to parents by Tami Pike, Bend-La Pine Schools lead nurse.

Students or staff of the school with those symptoms should seek a medical evaluation and tell health care providers there was a case of pertussis at the school. The illness can be treated with antibiotics. Students suspected of having pertussis may not attend school until taking at least five days of prescribed medication.

The best way to prevent pertussis is vaccination, but vaccines are not 100 percent effective.

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