Iowa State University Student Health Service announced today it’s confirmed a case of whooping cough in the student body — which just left for home for the Thanksgiving break. Registered Nurse Penni McKinley, a coordinator at the Thielen Student Health Center, says the laboratory called to notify the Health Service they turned up a positive case. In recent weeks they’ve been taking swabs from every student whose complaints included a persistent cough, and this is the first test to come back positive for whooping cough. It was not a surprise to find it, as Mckinley says pertussis has been going around in the surrounding community. She says there have been a number of cases in the elementary and middle schools in Ames, and Story County’s in the middle of an outbreak — so students, profs and staff were alerted to be vigilant for cases showing up on campus. The school’s already sent emails to all students, alerting them that the highly contagious disease is going around in the community. McKinley says it’s not possible to segregate students, on campus or at home. They’re not just in the classroom any more, she says; students are out in the community doing volunteer work, interning at manufacturing places, working in school reading programs, “out in the real world,” and she’s never quite sure what they’ll bring back. Now they’re heading home, ISU Health Service hopes their families and friends will get the word to be alert for the illness. The unidentified student who tested positive for whooping cough lives off-campus, in Ames. McKinley says the student health service is a full-service ambulatory healthcare center. The center’s certified for its quality level of care, and adheres to national standards in its practice with a pharmacy on site, lab and x-ray facilities. She says doctors are boatrd-certified and “able to see just about anything that walks through the door.” Whooping cough, or pertussis, has hit several communities throughout the state this fall. Early symptoms are similar to a cold with upper-respiratory distress and a cough that hangs on and gets worse.
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