Brenau cautions students, employees of probable pertussis case on Gainesville campus

Aug 28, 2019
Kristen Bowman

Out of an abundance of caution and a commitment to health and safety, Brenau University today alerted students, faculty and staff to the possibility of a probable case of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, on its Gainesville campus beginning the week of Aug. 16.

The university identified a small group of students and employees who may have been exposed to the initial probable carrier prior to the start of the fall semester and is in communication directly with that group.

“We are committed to the health of our students, our employees and our community,” said Vice President for Students Services Amanda Lammers. “The vast majority of Brenau students have been vaccinated and are at low risk of contracting this, but we felt it imperative to make everyone aware of the probable case and to share possible symptoms.”

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.

The university distributed a letter from Lammers to students on the Gainesville campus on Wednesday, Aug. 28, and alerted faculty and staff through internal communication channels. It asked students and employees who have developed any of these symptoms around or after Aug. 16, to visit University Nurse Practitioner Sarah Davis at the Brenau Center for Health & Well-Being at 205 Boulevard as soon as possible.

Anyone diagnosed with pertussis will have to refrain from school, group or work activities until he or she has been on medicine to treat pertussis for five days. The university will work with any such individuals to accommodate academic and other commitments.

Brenau is working with the Georgia Department of Health and the Hall County Health Department to identify the source of the illness. 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.

Brenau will provide the Tdap booster shot to students and employees who need it free of charge at the Center for Health & Well-Being beginning Wednesday afternoon. Both the university and the local health department will continue to work together to monitor the situation. For updates, visit