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Two More Whooping Cough Cases Reported

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May 4, 2011

Confirmed cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, were reported at two schools last week potentially exposing others to the highly contagious disease, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

The two new school cases bring the region’s total to 192 so far this year. See below for specific school information.

“Recommended immunizations might have prevented both school-related cases of pertussis,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., County Deputy Public Health Officer. “Immunity can decrease over time making older children vulnerable to the disease. For this reason, middle and high school students will be required to have the Tdap booster shot before starting the next school term.” 

Last year, there were a record 1,144 pertussis cases in the county, including two 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.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 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 booster shot of Tdap vaccine at 11-12 years of age. Beginning July 1, all students in 7th through 12th grade, in both public and private schools, will need to present proof that they have received the pertussis booster shot before they return to school.

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    

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 La Paloma Elementary School in the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District. 
  • A 12-year-old who was not up-to-date on immunizations and attends Roosevelt Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District.