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Whooping cough case in Riverhead among dozens on LI

Riverhead High School. (May 23, 2013)

Riverhead High School. (May 23, 2013) Photo Credit: Ian J. Stark

A confirmed case of whooping cough has been reported at Riverhead High School, bringing to 42 the number of cases so far this year in Suffolk County, a county health department spokeswoman said Thursday.

The community was notified about the case of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, through a letter dated Wednesday from the Division of Public Health posted on the Riverhead Central School District website.

"This letter is to inform you that there has been a case of pertussis at Riverhead High School," the letter states, warning that pertussis is a "highly contagious" bacterial respiratory illness spread through the air by coughing.

Calls to schools Superintendent Nancy Carney asking about the student's condition were not returned.

Other Suffolk districts with cases so far this fall include North Babylon, Bay Shore and Harborfields, said county Health Department spokeswoman Grace Kelly-McGovern.

Last year there was a total of 515 confirmed cases in Suffolk, she said.

Most whooping cough cases involve schoolchildren, but adults are also susceptible, she said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that vaccination is the best defense.

In Nassau County, 26 cases of whooping cough have been reported so far this year, a health department spokeswoman said. Nassau had 144 cases in 2012.

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