Elementary Student Tests Positive for Whooping Cough

An East County elementary school student was diagnosed with pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency officials said today.

The 9-year-old, who was up-to-date with immunizations, attends Mt. Woodson Elementary School in the Ramona Unified School District. This brings the region’s total to 379 cases so far this year, compared to 683 cases confirmed in the first nine months of last year. For all of 2010, there were a record 1,144 cases reported in San Diego County, including two infant deaths. 

“Ordinarily more pertussis cases are reported in the summer months, but that did not occur this year. Whooping cough cases have decreased significantly as compared to this same time last year,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “We continue to remind parents to stay vigilant with immunizations to help protect their children at school this fall.”

A new state law requires 7th through 12th graders to show proof they have received the Tdap booster shot before they can attend classes. AB 354 was passed as a result of the 2010 statewide pertussis epidemic.
Parents can get the Tdap booster shot for their children through their primary care physician, and students who are not covered under a medical insurance plan can obtain the shot from a local retail pharmacy for a fee, or from a County public health center. 

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