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Four-Year-Old Has Whooping Cough

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Child medical

February 10, 2010

A 4-year-old student who attends Carmel Valley Preschool at Grace Point Church in San Diego was diagnosed with pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, according to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). The student, who was up-to-date with four DTaP vaccinations, attends the preschool on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and is in childcare at the church twice a week.

HHSA is working closely with school staff to notify the parents of all children who were potentially exposed.

Named for the "whoop" sound children and adults sometimes make when they try to breathe in during or after a severe coughing spell, whooping cough usually starts with flu-like symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing, fever and a mild cough. These symptoms may be mild and brief, or last up to two weeks, but are often followed by severe coughing fits that may be associated with vomiting. Fever, if present, is usually mild.  It is treatable with antibiotics.

Whooping cough can occur at any age, but infants and young children are at highest risk of life-threatening complications, the most common of which is pneumonia. In adolescents and adults, rib fractures and difficulty sleeping may occur.

It is recommended that children get five doses of DTaP vaccine, one dose at 2 mo., 4 mo., 6 mo., 15-18 mo., and 4-6 years of age. It is also recommended that people 11- 64 years of age receive a one-time dose of Tdap, given in place of a “tetanus booster,” which is administered every 10 years.

This is the 10th case of whooping cough in 2010. There were 140 cases in 2009.

For more information about whooping cough, please call the HHSA Immunization Branch at

(619) 692-8661, or visit the web site at

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