SKOWHEGAN — There were no new cases of whooping cough reported Friday in Skowhegan schools, but parents of high school baseball and softball players were advised to have their children treated with antibiotics as a precaution.

High School principal Richard Wilson said the students at the school that were confirmed cases of the disease are now past the period in which they could be considered contagious.

“They were told that because they were on the same bus with the kids who at one time had had whooping cough and had close contact, that they should go to see their doctor,” Wilson said. “The varsity teams, boys and girls, travel together and they also practice with the (junior varsity).”

A letter Thursday was sent home with all high school students alerting parents to the cases. The information also was posted on the district website.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a serious, contagious respiratory disease that can cause long, violent coughing fits and the characteristic “whooping” sound that follows when a person gasps for air.

School Superintendent Brent Colbry said letters were not sent home with elementary or middle school students because the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention had not confirmed with district health officials that cases were identified among younger children.

Stephen Sears, the state epidemiologist, said Friday there had been four students who appeared to have symptoms of whooping cough, including a 7-year-old.

“There has been what we call a possible exposure with younger children and so we have suggested antibiotics to all those people; it’s something we do if we think there is a potential for another case,” Sears said Friday. “Some of the cases are related to each other.”

Jeff Clukey of Norridgewock whose 16-year-old son plays on the junior varsity squad said he received the note advising parents to have their children see a doctor.

“They advised to get him on antibiotics because he has had some coughing and some allergy symptoms,” Clukey said. “We went this morning and put him on antibiotics.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

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