NORTHVILLE, Mich. -

A student at Northville's Hillside Middle School has been diagnosed with whooping cough, formally known as pertussis.

In a letter home to parents and guardians on Wednesday, school administrators say they are working closely with the Wayne County Department of Public Health in response to the child's diagnoses.

According to the Oakland County Health Division, pertussis is a very contagious respiratory disease caused by a bacteria called Bordetella Pertussis. Also known as whooping cough, it is commonly referred to as the "100-day cough" because of the severe, prolonged coughing is causes.

The illness can be spread when an infected person coughs and sneezes near other people, who then breathe in the bacteria. It's most contagious during the first two weeks of illness.

The symptoms of whooping cough include runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, red/watery eyes, a mild fever and a dry cough.

For more information on whooping cough from the Oakland County Health Division, view this fact sheet: Pertussis Fact Sheet.