5 cases of whooping cough reported in San Diego County schools this week

This year's tally now 202 cases

SAN DIEGO - Five cases of whooping cough were reported in San Diego County schools this week, which brought this year's tally to 202, 37 more cases than were reported in all of 2012, county health officials said Friday.

Cases of whopping cough -- also known as pertussis -- reported in the past week were an 8-year-old at Wolf Canyon Elementary School; two 14-year-old La Costa Canyon High School students; a 15-year-old student at Helix Charter High School; and a Lincoln Acres School employee.

All but one were up-to-date on their immunizations, according to county officials.

According to the county's Health and Human Services Agency, 127 cases of whooping cough were reported at this time last year.

"We are seeing a slightly elevated level of pertussis activity in San Diego County," county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. "The best defense against the spread of pertussis is to make sure you are up-to-date on vaccinations and booster shots."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get the DTaP vaccine at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and between 4 to 6 years. Preteens should get a Tdap booster.

Retail pharmacies offer the vaccine series and the booster for a fee, and those without medical insurance can get the shots at no cost from a County Public Health Center, county officials said.

A typical pertussis case starts with one to two weeks of a runny nose, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild, according to health officials.

The disease can be treated with antibiotics.

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