CLINTON (KATV) - Arkansas Department of Health officials are investigating a whooping cough outbreak at Clinton Intermediate School and working quickly to stop its spread.
ADH contacted the media as soon as it became aware of the outbreak because of how quickly the disease can spread.
"Our assumption is that although we know there are a small number of cases, there are probably a large number of people who are actually infected at the moment and don't realize," said Gary Wheeler with ADH.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. Health officials say the disease is typically spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include persistent, rapid coughing fits and a "whooping" sound caused by rapid intake of air after a coughing spell.
The outbreak started at Clinton Intermediate but ADH investigators said it spreads rapidly. Experts recommend that all students and their family members get whooping cough vaccines as soon as possible. Even Clinton parents and children who have already been vaccinated are encouraged to get immunized because the effects of the vaccine wear off in four to five years.
Students at the school are receiving booster shots and those students already showing symptoms are getting antibiotics to prevent the spread of the disease.