Whooping Cough Case Confirmed on Campus

In an email sent out last Thursday, Feb. 22, Student Health and Wellness Services Director Casey Anderson announced the confirmation of a case of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, within the Swarthmore campus community. The email stressed that the disease is mild in most cases, but can be more serious for infants, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems. Swarthmore students living in dorms are required to be vaccinated for whooping cough, among other diseases, to reduce the spread of disease. Vaccines greatly reduce the likelihood and severity of whooping cough infections. 

The Delaware County Department of Health (DCDH) directed the college to notify those identified as having been close contacts to the confirmed case. Close contacts were sent an email informing them of their potential exposure and containing an attachment from the DCDH directing them to stay home if they experience symptoms such as coughing. 

The Phoenix spoke to Dr. Jerrold Ellner, professor of medicine and attending in infectious disease at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School about the implications of the infection on campus. Ellner emphasized that the whooping cough is generally mild in young adults, but cautioned that the disease is nonetheless highly transmissible and can be carried and transmitted without symptoms. He also stated that cases in vaccinated populations within the United States, like those in the Swarthmore community, are generally rare.


Delaware County Health Department (DCHD)



Swarthmore Health and Wellness


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