Pertussis Cases Nearly Double 2013 Total

Seven new cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, reported this week where the public may have been exposed brings San Diego County to nearly double the number of cases reported in all of 2013, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency.

Those new cases are listed below.

“Parents should remain vigilant for signs of whooping cough to help prevent the spread of this disease,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Everyone should be up-to-date on their vaccinations and booster shot.

“Even though the effectiveness of the vaccine lessens over time, it’s still the best defense against pertussis.”

There have been 759 confirmed cases of pertussis in 2014. There were only 97 cases reported at this same point last year and a total of 431 in 2013. Pertussis activity hit a record high in 2010 with 1,179 cases.

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:           

  • A 7-year-old and a 10-year-old at Riverview Elementary School in the Lakeside Union School District.
  • A 7-year-old at Rios Elementary School in the Cajon Valley Union School District.
  • A 10-year-old at Innovation Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District.
  • A 13-year-old at Our Lady’s School in San Diego.
  • An individual at Charley Brown Children’s Center in La Mesa.
  • An individual at Fisher Children’s Center at Camp Pendleton.
Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact