2013 Pertussis Cases Already Exceed 2012 Totals

Three new cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, have been reported at area schools this week moving the region past last year’s total number of local cases.

There have been 181 cases of pertussis reported in the county so far this year, compared to last year’s total of 165 cases according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).

“We are seeing increased pertussis activity again in San Diego County,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., county public health officer. “We saw a record 1,144 cases in 2010 and although we are nowhere near that peak, we continue to encourage people to get vaccinated because it’s the best defense we have against spreading pertussis.

“No vaccination is 100 percent effective, but being up-to-date with all recommended vaccinations, including the booster shot is still the most effective way to prevent or reduce the severity of pertussis,” said Wooten.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get doses of DTaP vaccine at the following ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years. Health officials also recommend that preteens and adults get a Tdap booster. The ultimate goal is to prevent deaths that can result as a complication of pertussis. Infants under one year old are especially vulnerable because they do not have the full five-dose series of pertussis vaccinations.

Parents can obtain the vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physicians. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee, and anyone who is not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at no cost.

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 and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit


The new pertussis cases reported this week are:

·         A 10-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends the Chula Vista Elementary School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District. Contact: Anthony Millican (619) 425-9600 ext 1328.

·         A 13-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends East Lake Middle School in the Sweetwater Union High School District. Contact Manuel Rubio (619) 691-5578.

·         A 16-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends High Tech High in Chula Vista. Contact: Lillian Hsu (619) 591-2505.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact