The Natrona County Health Department has confirmed a case of whooping cough, formally known as pertussis, at a school within the Natrona County School District.

The school was not identified in a statement from the district Wednesday morning. District spokeswoman Tanya Southerland said in a text message that parents at the affected school have been directly notified.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can cause serious complications, particularly for infants and young children. It is spread by respiratory material containing the bacteria from an infected person who sneezes or coughs.

The district is asking any children, or their parents or guardians, who experience symptoms of pertussis to contact a healthcare provider and see if they are in fact dealing with a case of whooping cough.

"The ill person must stay home from school until pertussis has been excluded or they have received an appropriate antibiotic for at least five days," the district said in a statement Wednesday.

"It is also important that staff who may have pertussis stay home."

Early on, pertussis appears similar to the common cold. However, as it develops, coughing fits can become so severe that patients can't eat or sleep normally.

Symptoms typically begin five to 10 days after exposure to an infected person, but may take as long as three weeks to develop.

Southerland said any further information or reports would be communicated to the community, and parents or guardians at any affected schools would be directly notified.

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