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Six Children Diagnosed with Whooping Cough

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June 16, 2010

The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) is reporting six local children have been diagnosed with pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough:

  • A 9-year-old who attends Lake Elementary School in the Vista Unified School District
  • A 9-year-old who attends Nichols Elementary School in the Oceanside Unified School District
  • An 11-year-old who attends Knob Hill Elementary School in the San Marcos Unified School District
  • A 12-year-old who attends Bear Valley Middle School in the Escondido School District
  • A 12-year-old who attends San Elijo Middle School in the San Marcos Unified School District
  • A 14-year-old who attends Maranatha Christian School in San Diego.

All six children had five DTaP vaccinations. The student from Knob Hill Elementary also had his booster shot. HHSA is working closely with the schools to notify staff and parents of all students who were potentially exposed.

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.

No vaccine is 100 percent effective and immunity can wane over time, but being up-to-date on your vaccinations can lessen the severity of illness-related symptoms.

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.

There have been 87 reported cases of whooping cough in San Diego County this year. There were 143 cases in 2009. Reports of whooping cough usually peak in the summer months.

For more information about whooping cough, please call the HHSA Immunization Branch toll-free at (866) 358-2966, or visit the web site at

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