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College Officials Taking Precautions to Contain Pertussis at Plattsburgh State

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ Three cases of pertussis have been confirmed at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, and college officials are taking precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. 

Dr. Kathleen Camelo, director of the Center for Student Health and Psychological Services, said pertussis is a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. "The disease is contagious and can spread from an infected person via direct or airborne contact with respiratory droplets or by direct contact with oral secretions such as kissing, sharing lip gloss, cigarettes or food utensils.  At this point, all known contacts of the confirmed cases have been treated." 

Pertussis can be a very serious disease, particularly for infants less than one year of age or the elderly. Petussis starts with cold symptoms and a cough that becomes much worse over a one to two-week period and may last for months. Symptoms usually include a long series of coughs (coughing fits) that may be followed by a whooping noise, vomiting, turning blue or difficulty catching breath.

Older children, adults and very young infants may not develop the characteristic whooping noise associated with the disease. There is generally only a slight fever, and the cough is often worse at night. Cough medicines usually do not help alleviate the cough. 

Camelo is urging students, faculty and staff who may have a cough lasting two weeks or longer, or believe they may have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with pertussis to contact the Center for Student Health and Psychological Services at 564-2187 or their personal medical provider.

"We are treating those individuals who might have come in contact with an individual who has the disease and are working closely with the Clinton County Health Department to prevent further cases on campus," said Camelo.

Springfest to go on

After a discussion with officials at the Clinton County Health Department concerning the risks for exposure to pertussis, college officials have decided to continue with plans for Saturday's Springfest at the Field House.

"There is less of a risk for pertussis at Springfest than there is for the flu or the common cold," said Camelo. "We would encourage attendees to practice proper respiratory etiquette at the outdoor concert. That includes covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or your arm when coughing or sneezing, washing your hands and not sharing food utensils, cups and cigarettes."

The gates for Springfest will open at 1 p.m. The bands will perform throughout the afternoon and evening at the site located at the lacrosse field next to the Field House on Rugar Street.

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