Health

Pertussis Cases Continue to Outpace 2012

Six new cases of pertussis have been reported at local schools this week as whooping cough cases in 2013 continue to outpace last year according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

There have been 232 cases of pertussis reported in the county so far this year, compared to last year’s total of 165 cases. There were 142 cases reported by this date in 2012.

“Pertussis is not at the alarming levels of the epidemic in 2010, but we are seeing many more cases than last year at this time,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The majority of cases are in the 10- to 18-year-old age group and that’s why it’s important that preteens and adults get their necessary booster shot.

“There is some evidence that protection provided by the vaccine weakens after time, but the best defense against pertussis is still to get the shot and protect yourself and those around you.”

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 younger than 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 www.sdiz.org.

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The new pertussis cases reported this week are:

·         A 6-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Turtleback Elementary in the Poway Unified School District.

·         An 11-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Del Mar Heights Elementary School in the Del Mar Union School District.

·         A 12-year-old who was not up-to-date on immunizations and attends Murray Manor Elementary School in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District.

·         A 15-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Academy of Our Lady of Peace.

·         Two 15-year-olds who were up-to-date on immunizations and attend Grossmont High School in the Grossmont Union High School District.

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