Whooping Cough Still Active in Schools

A student at a Rancho Peñasquitos private school was diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whooping cough, County Health and Human Services Agency officials said today.

A 7-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends The Cambridge School potentially exposed others to the contagious disease. The new case brings the San Diego region pertussis case total to 19.

“Regular childhood immunizations or a pertussis booster shot can help prevent or minimize the severity of the disease,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “The federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recently issued a recommendation that all adults should get a pertussis booster to help prevent the spread of the respiratory illness that can be fatal to infants.”

No whooping cough deaths were reported in California in 2011, but a record 1,144 cases, which included two infant deaths, were reported in San Diego County during the 2010 epidemic.

Parents can obtain the vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physician. Students and seniors who are not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a local retail pharmacy for a fee, or 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

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact