TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan — A school in northern Michigan will close its doors for a week in an attempt to contain a whooping cough outbreak, school officials said Monday.
There are 10 confirmed cases of Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, at Grand Traverse Academy, a public K-12 charter school, Superintendent Susan Dameron said.
Pertussis, an extremely contagious disease, is caused by Bordetella pertussis bacteria releasing toxins, which damage the cilia in the upper respiratory system and cause swelling.
Dameron said there are 80 possible cases, and Grand Traverse County health officials are working to update numbers.
Pertussis is preventable with vaccinations, though there are periodic outbreaks throughout the country, including this year in California. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of pertussis among infants exceeded that of all other age groups.
As of August 2013, Michigan had the country's fourth highest rate of students exempt from vaccination for religious or philosophical reasons. Going into the 2012-2013 school year approximately 7,300 kindergarteners, 5.9 percent, started school unvaccinated.
Dameron said the decision to close for the next four days was made to give students and staff the chance to rest and let antibiotics run their course. About 1,230 students attend the school, and attendance dipped Monday.
"We did not even meet 70 percent of enrollment today, which is another piece that played into the decision," Dameron said.
Elms writes for The Record-Eagle in Traverse City, Mich.