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Whooping Cough Case Numbers Increasing

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June 15, 2011

Parents are reminded to make sure their children are vaccinated against pertussis as rates continue to creep up in the region, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported today.

In the past week, eight students at seven different schools were confirmed to have pertussis, potentially exposing others. See the list of schools below.

The new cases bring the region’s total to 252 cases to date. In 2010, pertussis, also known as whooping cough, reached a record 1,144 cases for the county, including two infant deaths.

“Parents can get ahead of the new school law which requires proof of a pertussis booster for students entering middle and high school in the fall,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “Before school starts, parents should check with primary care doctors to be sure their children are up-to-date with their pertussis vaccinations.”

Residents without a regular healthcare provider can get vaccinated at a HHSA Public Health Center. 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 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.

The Centers for Disease Control 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. Children should receive a Tdap booster shot at 11 or 12 years of age. Beginning July 1, all students in grades 7 through 12, in public and private schools, must show proof that they had the pertussis booster shot before they return to school.

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                                 

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

•         A 4-year-old who is up-to-date with immunizations and attends Carlsbad Country Day School in Carlsbad. 

•         A 9-year-old who is up-to-date with immunizations and attends Dingeman Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District. 

•         A 13-year-old who is due for a booster shot and attends San Diego Jewish Academy in Carmel Valley. 

•         A 13-year-old who is up-to-date with immunizations and attends Meadowbrook Middle School in the Poway Unified School District. 

•         A 6-year-old and a 7-year-old who are both up-to-date with immunizations at Juniper Elementary School in the Escondido Union School District. 

•         A 10-year-old who is up-to-date with immunizations and attends Hickman Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District. 

•         A 2-year-old who is up-to-date with immunizations and attends Magic Hours Children’s Center in Mira Mesa.