Case of Pertussis (whooping cough) at the HS


Laurie Melchionda, Director of Health Services

September 23rd, 2019

Dear Weston Public School Families,

Late this afternoon we received notification from Weston Public Health Department and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Division of Epidemiology and Immunization that there is a confirmed case of Pertussis (whooping cough) in the High School.

Pertussis is a disease caused by bacteria (germs) that is spread from person to person through close contact, such as would occur between household members or close friends. Although attending school or being in a classroom together is not considered close contact by the Department of Public Health, we share this advisory for your information and we encourage you to monitor your children closely for any symptoms.

Pertussis symptoms have three stages. The first stage begins like a cold with a runny nose, sneezing and cough. The cough lasts for a week or two then slowly gets worse. The second stage is marked by uncontrolled coughing spells, vomiting after coughing, and sometimes a whooping noise that you can hear when the person breathes in. Between spells, the person often appears to be well. This stage lasts for about 2 to 6 weeks. The final stage is when the symptoms begin to gradually lessen. The person still may have coughing spells but is beginning to get better. The duration of classic pertussis is about 6 to 10 weeks. Adults, teens and vaccinated children often have milder symptoms that can be like bronchitis or some other cough illness. Infants under the age of 1 year are most likely to experience severe illness if they develop pertussis. People with a cough should limit contact with infants whenever possible. Please see the attached from the Department of Public Health for more information.

The germs that cause pertussis live in the nose, mouth and throat, and are sprayed into the air when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks. Other people nearby can then breathe in the germs. Touching a tissue or sharing a cup used by someone with pertussis can also spread the disease. The first symptoms appear about 7 to 10 days after a person is exposed. People with pertussis can spread the disease starting up to 2 weeks before until 3 weeks after the cough starts, or until they have completed 5 days of an appropriate antibiotic treatment.

Vaccination is the best way to protect against pertussis. The 2018-2019 school immunizations schedule can be found at the following link.

If you think your child may be exhibiting symptoms of pertussis, we ask that you please reach out to your child’s primary care physician for guidance. If you have further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 781-786-5265.


Laurie Melchionda M.Ed., BSN, RN

Director of Health Services