Student Case of Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Identified

Ferris State UniversityDistrict Health Department #10 of Mecosta County has informed Ferris State University’s Birkam Health Center of a student with a confirmed case of Pertussis (Whooping Cough) who is being treated with appropriate medication.

However, as a precautionary measure, Birkam Health Center staff are identifying and notifying employees and students who have had regular contact with the student, and they will be offered a free Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis) vaccine. Students who aren’t contacted, but who exhibit symptoms of pertussis such as uncontrollable, violent coughing should contact the Birkam Health Center for further evaluation and treatment by a physician. Students who have not paid their health fee will be responsible for paying this fee even though there is no charge for the Tdap vaccine.

Vaccines will be offered during health center clinic hours. Please call ahead to obtain abbreviated hours during the break (between terms). Regular clinic hours apply during the summer term.

Pertussis is reported to be a highly contagious disease only found in humans and is spread from person to person. People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within seven to 10 days after being exposed, but sometimes not for as long as six weeks.

Pertussis vaccines are very effective in protecting individuals from disease but no vaccine is 100 percent effective. If pertussis is circulating in the community, there is a chance that a fully vaccinated person, of any age, can catch this very contagious disease. The infection is usually less severe for those who have been vaccinated.

Steps to take:

  1. Check to see if you have had a DTaP or Tdap vaccination within the last ten years. If you have, no need to do anything.  If you have not, you may wish to contact your health care provider for re-vaccination or Birkam Health Center.
  2. If you have symptoms, see your health care provider.
  3. If you have a cough, please cover it by coughing into your sleeve or Kleenex. Dispose of the Kleenex.
  4. If you have questions or concerns, you may call Birkam Health Center at (231) 591-2614 or the Health Department at (231) 592-0130.

If you have questions or concerns, you may call Birkam Health Center at (231) 591-2614 or the Health Department at (231) 592-0130. 

Additional information about Pertussis is also available at or the Birkam Health Center Web site which can be linked to from

Last updated: 04-29-2014