SAN DIEGO–New cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, have been reported at three school sites where students and staff may have been exposed, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported Friday.
The recent cases bring the total to 155 in the county so far this year. There were 165 cases of pertussis reported in 2012.
“Most children are back in school now and spend their days in close surroundings with fellow students,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., deputy county public health officer. “Parents should make sure their children are up to date with all recommended vaccinations, including the DTaP and Tdap shots which are effective in preventing or reducing the severity of pertussis.”
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 under 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.