Investigation continues into cause of pneumonia outbreak

Posted at: 10/22/2013 5:55 PM
Updated at: 10/23/2013 8:50 AM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Investigators from the state Department of Health continue to look for the cause of a pneumonia outbreak among students at an Albuquerque elementary school.

Five kids at Sandia Base Elementary came down with pneumonia at the end of September. All five have recovered, but public health officials say this is serious business - they have to check out everything to make sure the contagious disease isn't spreading.

"Frequently with respiratory diseases, it's person to person exposure," said Dr. Joan Baumbach, deputy epidemiologist for the Department of Health. "We ask questions of people who have pneumonia to find out if there's any common link other than just being together and close to one another that might be causing the pneumonia to spread from person to person."

"Parents just need to watch for kids that may be showing signs like coughing, sneezing, temperature, that kind of stuff," said Laura Case, director of nursing for Albuquerque Public Schools. "At that particular school, they'll want to take those kids with those symptoms to their doctor to have them evaluated."

Case and Baumbach said the best prevention tips are to cover coughs and sneezes either with a tissue, or by using a shirt or jacket sleeve. This prevents the pneumonia from going airborne. Wash hands frequently. They said there are a lot of respiratory illnesses going around right now besides pneumonia.