High Pertussis Activity Continues

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency is reporting 22 new cases of pertussis last week, including 8 cases at locations where others may have been exposed to the disease.

Details of possible public exposures are listed below.

The number of cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, reported in the county now stands at 83 for the year. There were 430 cases reported in 2013, 165 in 2012 and a recent high of 1,179 cases in 2010.

“We are continuing to see high levels of pertussis activity throughout the county,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Being up-to-date on your vaccinations continues to be your best defense against the disease.”

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. Antibiotics can lessen the severity of symptoms and prevent the spread of disease to others.

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. Infants younger than 1-year-old are especially vulnerable because they do not have the full five-dose series of pertussis vaccinations.

Parents can obtain the DTaP 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 minimal or no cost.

For more information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit

All of the new pertussis cases reported at the following locations were up-to-date for their age on immunizations:

· A 5-year-old at Adams Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District

· A 7-year-old at Richland Elementary School in the San Marcos Unified School District

· An 11-year-old at High Tech Middle School in San Diego Unified School District

· A 12-year-old at El Camino Creek Elementary School in the Encinitas Union School District

· A 12-year-old at Greenfield Middle School in the Cajon Valley Union School District

· A 14-year-old at High Tech High Media Arts charter school in the San Diego Unified School District

· A 16-year-old at La Jolla Country Day School

· An individual at Love to Dance studio in Carmel Valley

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