San Diego Co. whooping cough cases spike

SAN DIEGO - The number of pertussis cases reported in San Diego County since Jan. 1 has surpassed the total for all of last year, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced Tuesday.

More than 100 cases of the illness also known as whooping cough have been confirmed recently, bringing this year's count to 454, according to the HHSA. In all of 2013, 431 cases of the illness were reported.

The recent high for a full year was 1,179 cases in 2010.

"This year, a substantial increase in pertussis cases is being reported in San Diego County and throughout California," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "Parents, guardians and teachers should be vigilant for symptoms of the disease."

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 prevent spreading the disease to others and can lessen the severity of symptoms, according to health officials.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get doses of the 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 booster.

Infants younger than a 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 booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physician. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee, and anyone not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a county public health center at minimal or no cost.

These are the locations of the 21 most recent cases. All of the patients were up-to-date on their immunizations.

•    A person at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, San Pasqual
•    A person at First Baptist Church of El Cajon
•    A 9-year-old at Doyle Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District
•    A 9-year-old at Juniper Elementary School in the Escondido Union School District
•    A 9-year-old at San Pasqual Union Elementary School in the San Pasqual Union School District
•    A 9-year-old and an 11-year-old at Hill Creek Elementary in the Santee School District
•    A 10-year-old at Central Elementary School in the Escondido Union School District
•    A 10-year-old at Juarez-Lincoln Elementary School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District
•    A 10-year-old at Silver Gate Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District
•    A 10-year-old at Ocean View Hills School in the San Ysidro School District
•    A 14-year-old at Christian High School, a private school in El Cajon
•    An 11-year-old at Black Mountain Middle School in the Poway Unified School District
•    An 11-year-old at John Otis School in the National School District
•    A 12-year-old at St. Patrick Catholic School, a private school in Carlsbad
•    A 13-year-old at Bernardo Heights Middle School in the Poway School District
•    A 14-year-old at Hilltop Middle School in the Sweetwater Union High School District
•    A 15-year-old at Mira Mesa High School in the San Diego Unified School District
•    Two 15-year-olds at Granite Hills High School in the Grossmont Union High School District
•    A 17-year-old at Scripps Ranch High School in the San Diego Unified School District

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

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