Local Pertussis Cases Rise as State Declares Epidemic

Seven new cases of pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, were reported this week where the public may have been exposed, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency. Those new cases are listed below.


“Pertussis activity continues at a high level locally and the California Department of Public Health declared a pertussis epidemic in the state,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The biggest concern is infants because they can’t receive their pertussis immunizations until they are 2 months old.

“All pregnant women should get vaccinated in their third trimester to pass as much immunity as possible to their newborn and then parents should get their infant vaccinated as soon as they hit that two month mark.”

There have been 667 confirmed cases of pertussis in 2014. There were only 89 cases reported at this same point last year and a total of 431 in 2013. Pertussis activity hit a record high in 2010 with 1179 cases.

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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 the following vaccination schedule:

· Young children need five doses of DTaP by kindergarten: at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years.

· All students entering 7th grade need proof of a whooping cough booster immunization (Tdap).

· A Tdap booster is recommended for pregnant women during their third trimester of each pregnancy, even if they got a booster before becoming pregnant.

· One dose of Tdap is recommended for adults 19 years of age and older who did not get Tdap as an adolescent.

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, except for the cases noted:   

· An 11-year-old who was not up-to-date with immunizations at Wangenheim Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District.

· An 11-year-old who was not up-to-date with immunizations at Meridian Elementary School in the Cajon Valley Union School District.

· A 12-year-old at Pershing Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District.

· A 14-year-old at Twin Peaks Middle School in the Poway Unified School District.

· A 16-year-old at Charter School of San Diego.

· A 16-year-old at Santana High School in the Grossmont Union High School District.

· An individual at Tierra Bonita Elementary School in the Poway Unified School District.

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