WINTHROP — A pertussis outbreak at Methow Valley schools has the potential to spread to other districts after one of the students confirmed with the disease attended a basketball tournament with teams from across the state.
School officials say they haven’t been able to get a clear answer from health officials about whether a basketball player who was confirmed to have whooping cough on Jan. 3 would have been contagious when he attended the Brewster Christmas basketball tournament on Dec. 28 and 29. Some 17 schools attended that tournament.
The Methow Valley School District now has nine confirmed cases of whooping cough, and school officials postponed basketball games Friday, Saturday and tonight to prevent further spread of the disease.
Athletic director Mike Wilson said most of those cases are at the elementary school, but one student who plays basketball for Liberty Bell High School may have exposed others. “They’re still confused about whether two hours on a bus was considered exposure,” he said. The district will meet with public health officials today.
Meanwhile, Liberty Bell players on both the boys and girls teams were advised to be treated, and stayed home from school on Monday to make sure spread of the disease did not continue.
Wilson said a game tonight at Bridgeport is postponed mostly as a precaution, but players will be allowed to practice after school today, and will again play other teams beginning Friday.
No other pertussis cases have been reported in other parts of Okanogan County, said Lauri Jones, community health director for Okanogan County Public Health.
“Right now, it’s limited to the Methow,” she said of the outbreak. The school district also had a pertussis outbreak last spring.
Jones said anyone who was exposed and has a compromised immunity system or is considered at high risk, such as infants, will want to see a physician to find out if antibiotics should be prescribed as a precautionary measure.
She said free immunization boosters are available at all three clinics in the Methow Valley for adults or students who need to be re-immunized.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512