Health

Pertussis is Not Taking a Holiday Break

Ten new cases of pertussis in local school districts have been reported to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

There have been 306 cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, reported in the county so far this year, compared to last year’s total of 165 cases. Although the number of cases has increased this year, it is lower than the 1,179 cases reported in 2010 and the 400 cases reported in 2011.

“Pertussis activity has really been on the upswing in December,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “With the holidays right around the corner, it’s extremely important to be up-to-date on the vaccine series and boosters to protect not only yourself, but those around you.”

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. The ultimate goal is to prevent deaths that can result as a complication of pertussis. 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 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.

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

The new pertussis cases – all up-to-date on immunizations – reported this week are:

·         An 11-year-old who attends Solana Pacific Elementary School in the Solana Beach School District.

·         A 9-year-old who attends Harry M. Wegeforth Elementary in the San Diego Unified School District.

·         A 13-year-old who attends Marston Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District.

·         A 15-year-old who attends Kearny School of International Business at the Kearny High Educational Complex in the San Diego Unified School District.

·         A 16-year-old who attends Mission Bay High School in the San Diego Unified School District.

·         A 14-year-old who attends Carmel Valley Middle School in the San Dieguito Union High School District.

·         An 18-year-old at La Costa Canyon High School in the San Dieguito Union High School District.

·         A 14-year-old who attends Canyon Crest Academy in the San Dieguito Union High School District.

·         A 16-year-old who attends Westview High School in the Poway Unified School District.

·         An individual at Del Norte High School & Pre-School in the Poway Unified School District.

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