The County of San Diego Health and Human Services agency reported that four children who have been diagnosed with pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.
Three 10-year-olds and one 11-year-old have all been diagnosed, authorities said. The children attend Flora Vista Elementary in the Encinitas School District, Hope Elementary School in the Carlsbad Unified School District, Rhoades School in Encinitas and San Elijo Elementary in the San Marcos Unified School District.
All four students were immunized with a 5 DTaP vaccination, but none had yet received a booster shot. The booster is typically given around age 11.
"Immunity tends to lessen over time with many vaccines, and because of that, children between the ages of 6 and 11 may be at risk for whooping cough," county public health officer Wilma Wooten said. "Children should have the necessary vaccinations to protect themselves and others. This is a good reminder to parents to bring their children in for the important booster shot at age 11."
Children are exposed to the illness through germs spread by coughing. HHSA is working closely with the schools to notify staff and parents of all students who were potentially exposed.
The illness is named for the "whoop" sound children make when they try to breathe in during or after a severe coughing spell. Whooping cough typically starts with flu-like symptoms and leads to severe coughing fits and vomiting. It is treatable with antibiotics and can occur at any age, but infants and young children are at highest risk for life-threatening complications.
San Diego County has had 56 reported cases of whooping cough this year and 143 cases in 2009.