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Whooping Cough Cases Continue Slow Climb

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April 20, 2011

Two confirmed pertussis cases where others may have been exposed to the highly contagious disease were reported in schools this past week, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency.

The cases of whooping cough, as the illness is commonly called, bring the region’s total to 181 from 169 last week.  See below for specific school information.

“Parents can ensure their children are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases like pertussis,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “Parents may also ask their physicians about getting a Tdap booster for adolescent children and for adults in their household where infants are present.”

Last year, there were a record 1,144 pertussis cases in the county. Two of the cases resulted in infant deaths.

Residents can get vaccinated at their primary care doctor or at an HHSA Public Health Center if they don’t have a regular healthcare provider.

The California Department of Public Health recommends a pertussis booster vaccine (Tdap) for everyone 10 years or older who has not yet received it, especially women of childbearing age, before, during, or immediately after pregnancy; and other people, including household contacts, caregivers, and health care workers, who have contact with pregnant women or infants. Children 7-9 years of age who did not receive all of their routine childhood shots are recommended to receive a Tdap booster dose.

Beginning July 1, all students entering 7th through 12th grades in both public and private schools must show proof that they have had a Tdap booster shot before they can start school. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that children receive a booster shot of Tdap vaccine at 11-12 yrs.

The CDC also recommends that children get one dose of DTaP vaccine at the following ages: 2 months; 4 months; 6 months; 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years.

A typical case of pertussis in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose for one-to-two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild. The disease is treatable with antibiotics.  For more information about whooping cough, please call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit the web site at    

New Cases

This week’s new pertussis cases where there is a potential for public exposure are:

•         An 11-year-old who was due for a booster shot and attends Discovery Charter School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. Contact: Anthony Millican (619) 425-9600 ext. 1328.

•         An 11-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends San Marcos Middle School in the San Marcos Unified School District. Contact: Dana Roderick (760) 752-1294.