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Whooping Cough Can Ruin Summer Fun

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July 13, 2011

A sick child confirmed to have pertussis brings the number of cases in San Diego County to 280 to date, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

This week’s new case of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough is: an 8-year-old who is up-to-date with immunizations, potentially exposed others to the disease and attends Porter Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District. Whooping cough cases in the region reached a record 1,144 cases, including two infant deaths last year.

“In 80 percent of all cases, the pertussis immunizations prevent children from getting the disease. For those who contract it despite being vaccinated, symptoms are less severe,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “The County reminds parents of middle and high school students about the new state law requiring proof that those students have gotten a booster shot on school registration day.”

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released two public service announcements reminding parents of the new law, an English version and a Spanish version.

Residents without a regular healthcare provider can get vaccinated at a HHSA Public Health Center. The CDPH 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 healthcare workers, who have contact with pregnant women or infants. Children 7 to 9 years of age who did not receive all of their routine childhood shots are recommended to receive a Tdap booster dose.

A typical case of pertussis 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