Pertussis Announcement

Updated Aug. 28, 9:45 a.m.

We at Brenau are committed to the health of our community. Out of an abundance of caution and a commitment to your health and safety, we are alerting you to the possibility of a probable case of pertussis (whooping cough) at Brenau University’s Gainesville campus beginning the week of Aug. 16. We have identified a group that was directly exposed to the initial carrier and we are in communication directly with that group.

What is pertussis?

Pertussis is an illness spread person to person by coughing or sneezing. Pertussis begins with cold-like symptoms including cough and runny nose. The cough becomes worse over one to two weeks, and may include coughing fits, sometimes with vomiting. An ill person may also make a whooping sound. Older children, adults and very young babies may not have a whoop. The cough is often worse at night and cough medicines usually do not help.

What can I do if I begin feeling ill?

The vast majority of Brenau students have been vaccinated and are at low risk of contracting this. However, if you have developed any of these symptoms around or after Aug. 16, please visit University Nurse Practitioner Sarah Davis, WHNP-BC, at the Brenau Center for Health & Well-Being at 205 Boulevard as soon as possible. If you develop severe coughing symptoms outside of university business hours, please go to an Urgent Care facility. If you are outside Gainesville and experience these symptoms, you may want to contact your physician or local health department as well. We encourage you to monitor for symptoms until Sept. 6, after which time the incubation period will have expired.

If you see a doctor for possible pertussis, please show this letter to him or her. Your doctor should swab you to test for pertussis and start antibiotics immediately if he or she thinks you have pertussis. If you are diagnosed with pertussis by a doctor, please contact Davis immediately so that additional pertussis prevention measures can be put into action. Anyone diagnosed with pertussis will have to refrain from school and group activities until he or she has been on medicine to treat pertussis for five days. The university will work with you to accommodate your academic and other commitments in the event you are diagnosed.

Consider the following Georgia Department of Public Health recommendations:

  • Talk to your doctor about the benefits of vaccination. Make sure your family’s vaccinations are up-to-date. Protection against pertussis from the childhood vaccine, DTaP, decreases over time. Older children and adults, including pregnant women, need to get a pertussis booster shot called Tdap to protect themselves and babies near or around them.
  • Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you have developed a cold, started coughing or developed symptoms since Aug. 16. Tell him or her that a case of pertussis was identified in your school/workplace. The Department of Public Health recommends that laboratory testing be obtained on all suspected pertussis cases.

Brenau University is working with the Georgia Department of Health and the Hall County Health Department to identify the source of the illness. Brenau will begin to provide the Tdap booster shot to you free of charge at the Brenau Center for Health & Well-Being beginning the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 28. Both the university and the health department will continue to work together to monitor the situation. If you have any questions, please call 770-534-3188.


The Brenau University Center for Health & Well-Being is located at 205 Boulevard on the Gainesville campus.

Further information is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s pertussis webpages:

Updated Aug. 28, 9:45 a.m.

General inquiries:, +1-770-534-6299 or +1-800-252-5119 | Admissions:, +1-770-534-6100 or +1-800-252-5119 ext. 6100