A Traverse City school is closed this week due to a whooping cough outbreak.
County health officials say there are 10 confirmed of the illness also known as pertussis at Grand Traverse Academy, with more than 80 additional cases considered “probable.”
The school is closed, and all sports and extracurricular activities canceled, until Monday.
Angela Minicuci, communications director for the Michigan Department of Community Health, said local and school officials made the decision to close the school in hopes of containing the outbreak. The state is monitoring the situation.
Minicuci notes that whooping cough is on the rise in Michigan and nationwide—with declining vaccination rates at least partially to blame. “As we’ve seen the number of pertussis cases increase, we’ve also unfortunately seen the number of people who are vaccinated against the disease decrease,” she said.
In July, state health officials reported a 45% increase in cases this year over 2013.
Minicuci adds that very young children are at particular risk from pertussis, since even those who are vaccinated aren’t fully immune until around age two.
“So when we’re dealing with school-age children, keep in mind it’s not just them that are at risk, it’s the entire family…other siblings, families, caregivers, anyone that comes on contact with that child,” Minicuci said.
The Grand Traverse County health department is encouraging all Grand Traverse Academy students and staff to go on preventative antibiotics.
The department has also set up a hotline to help families get prescriptions, and respond to any questions about the outbreak.