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Pertussis Cases On Steady Rise In County

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February 17, 2011

Pertussis cases increased to 70 in San Diego County this past week including five more in schools where others may have been exposed to the highly contagious disease, the County’s Health and Human Services Agency reported today.

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, established a new record in 2010 when 1,144 cases were reported in San Diego County. These included two infant deaths.

“Vaccinations are the best defense against whooping cough for infants and children,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “Whooping cough immunity wanes over time, that’s why a booster shot is recommended for preteens and adults.”

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    

The new pertussis cases reported this week are:

  • Two 3-year-olds and a 2-year-old who were up-to-date on immunizations and attend Discovery Isle Preschool in Carlsbad.
  • A 14-year-old who was up-to-date on vaccinations and attends Point Loma High School in the San Diego Unified School District.
  • A 15-year-old who was due for a booster shot and attends San Dieguito High School in the San Dieguito Union High School District.


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