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Whooping Cough Epidemic Continues

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February 24, 2011

Six more confirmed cases of pertussis were reported in San Diego County schools in the past week and potentially exposed students and staff to the disease, the County’s Health and Human Services Agency reported today.

 The school cases are among the 93 reported countywide to date in 2011.  Please see second page for school details.

Last year, pertussis, also known as whooping cough, reached epidemic status and established a new county record with 1,144 cases including two infant deaths.

“Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “Immunizations and booster shots are vital steps toward preventing future epidemic outbreaks such as the current one affecting the county and state.”

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    

New Cases

The new pertussis cases reported this week are:

•         An 18-month-old and who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Central Montessori Preschool in Encinitas. 

•         A 6-year-old who was up-to-date on vaccinations and attends Oceanside Elementary School in the Oceanside Unified School District. 

•         An 11-year-old who was due for a booster shot and attends Valley Middle School in the Carlsbad Unified School District. 

•         A 17-year-old who was up-to-date on vaccinations and attends Bonita High School in the Sweetwater Union High School District. 

•         A 10-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Bay Park Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District. 

•         A 12-year-old who was due for a booster shot and attends Creative Performing Media Arts Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District. 


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