Health

Three Cases of Whooping Cough Reported in Schools

Three students were diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and potentially exposed others at three local schools and a recreational facility, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency officials said today.

Three students were diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and potentially exposed others at three local schools and a recreational facility, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency officials said today.

The recent cases bring the region’s total to 382 for 2011. In 2010, there were a record 1,144 cases reported in San Diego County, including two infant deaths. See below for details about the new cases.

“Whooping cough vaccinations are the best way to protect children from this highly infectious disease that can be deadly to infants who are unvaccinated or not completely vaccinated,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “The incubation period for whooping cough is commonly 7 to 10 days, with a range of 4 to 21 days, and rarely may be as long as 42 days. Those people who are exposed to the disease need to watch for symptoms and seek treatment when necessary.”

A new state law requires 7th through 12th graders to show proof they have received the Tdap booster shot before they can attend classes. AB 354 was passed as a result of the 2010 statewide pertussis epidemic.

Parents can get the Tdap booster shot for their children through their primary care physician, and students who are not covered under a medical insurance plan can obtain the shot from a local retail pharmacy for a fee, or from a County public health center. 

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 sdiz.org.

This week’s new pertussis cases where there has been a potential for public exposure are:

  • A 7-year-old who was up-to-date with immunizations and attends Avocado Elementary School in the Cajon Valley School District. 
  • A 4-year-old who was unimmunized and attends Reformation Lutheran Church Preschool and Flip Force Gymnastics, both in Kearny Mesa.
  • A 6-year-old who was unimmunized and attends Innovations Charter School in Scripps Ranch.