A confirmed case of the bacterial infection known as pertussis, or whooping cough, at a Casper Elementary school has health officials reminding people of the availability of vaccines.

A joint press release sent out by Natrona County School District 1 and the Casper Natrona County Health Department says that it was confirmed that a child at Cottonwood Elementary school had tested positive for the condition last week.

Officials say the school nurse at Cottonwood was notified by a parent that their child tested positive for pertussis on March 5, and within a short amount of time the Wyoming Department of Health and the Casper-Natrona County Health Department confirmed the positive result.

School District authorities and the Casper Natrona County Health Department continue to investigate, to identify any need for "post-exposure prophylaxis or additional interventions."  A letter from the Wyoming Department of Health went home with every student attending Cottonwood, last week.

Trina Soper, Nursing Supervisor at the CNCHD says that the symptoms of whooping cough can be like that of a common cold, bud underlines that not every cough can be chalked up to pertussis.

"Often it can come on looking very cold-like, but we have to be careful because right now it's cold and flu season.  Not every cough is going to be whooping cough.  Usually whooping cough is very severe, to the point where the person may not be able to catch their breath or may vomit because they've been coughing so hard.  That would be certainly something that would indicate more than a cold."

People wanting to be tested for whooping cough should contact their health care provider or an area clinic.

Pertussis has made a comeback recently, Soper says, due to a lack of vaccinations.  "We have parents who don't vaccinate anymore, or will choose to vaccinate without the pertussis part of the vaccination."

Soper says further, that adults should get the TDAP vaccination (tetanus, dyptheria and pertussis) every five to ten years.

“If children and adults are vaccinated, the chance of developing clinical disease is remote.” said Dr. Mark Dowell, Natrona County Health Officer, “If a child develops a severe cough, contact your healthcare provider; otherwise, it is the season for colds and flu that have nothing to do with pertussis. There is no need to panic.”

The Casper-Natrona County Health Department has pertussis vaccine available for both children and adults. You may call them at 235-9340 for an appointment or come in anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday