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Whooping Cough Disease Still Going Strong

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May 25, 2011

Five new pertussis cases where others may have been exposed to the disease increased the local case total to 212 this year, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency said today.

The new confirmed cases occurred in schools across the region. See below for specific school information. In 2010, pertussis, also known as whooping cough, reached a record 1,144 cases for the county, including two infant deaths.

“The County continues to urge parents to make sure their children are fully vaccinated and better protected against the epidemic,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “Parents of middle and high school students should also be aware of a new law that requires proof of a pertussis booster before they can enter 7th to 12th grade classes for the next school term.”

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 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 (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 Tdap booster shot at 11 or 12 years of age. Beginning July 1, all students in 7th through 12th grade, 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 is a potential for public exposure are:

•         A 13-year-old who was due for a booster shot and attends Olive Peirce Middle School in the Ramona Unified School District. 

•         A 10-year-old who was not up-to-date with immunizations and attends Olive Elementary School in the Vista Unified School District. 

•         A 13-year-old who was up-to-date with immunizations and attends Marshall Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District. 

•         A 10-year-old who was up-to-date with immunizations and attends Monterey Ridge Elementary School in the Poway Unified School District. 

•         An 18-year-old who was up-to-date with immunizations and attends Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego.