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More whooping cough cases reported as Park Ridge Health implements visitor restrictions

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FILE - Health officials say the number of whooping cough cases has risen to 20 in Henderson County as Park Ridge Health implements visitor restrictions due to the outbreak. (Photo credit: MGN)

Health officials say the number of whooping cough cases has risen to 20 in Henderson County as Park Ridge Health implements visitor restrictions due to the outbreak.

This is an increase from the 18 reported cases on Wednesday.

Park Ridge announced it has enacted visitor restrictions due to the sharp increase in whooping cough (pertussis) cases in the area.

“Park Ridge Health has been tracking the increase in pertussis activity in our communities, which has reached the point where visitor restrictions are in the best interest for the safety of our patients,” said Jimm Bunch, Park Ridge Health President & CEO.

The following restrictions are now in place at the hospital:

  • No hospital visitors under the age of 18 permitted.
  • Visitors are limited to immediate family and clergy only.
  • The number of visitors is limited to one or two at a time, unless special circumstances are presented.
  • No hospital visitors with cough or other whooping cough symptoms permitted.

County health officials say whooping cough is a serious respiratory infection caused by the pertussis bacteria that affects the lungs and breathing tubes. It's easily spread when someone with the infection coughs or sneezes.

A Pisgah High School student was first diagnosed with pertussis in mid-November. By the end of the month, the illness had turned up in five other Henderson County schools.

Approximately 1,000 people in schools and the community have been identified as having close contact with someone who has whooping cough, according to the county's department of health.

If you have been notified that you or a family member may have been exposed to whooping cough, health officials advise:

  1. If the person who had contact with a case has symptoms, stay home to keep others from getting sick and contact your doctor for appropriate care. If the doctor thinks you may have whooping cough and gives you an antibiotic, you should stay home until you finish taking the medication.
  2. If the person who had contact does NOT have symptoms but has an infant, pregnant woman or someone with a weakened immune system in their home, contact the health department or school nurse.
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