There’s been a major increase in the number of cases of whooping cough across San Diego County this year -- up double from last year’s count, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).
So far, 334 local cases of pertussis have been reported, including 12 new cases in local school districts. Compare that to 165 cases reported in San Diego County in 2012.
According to the HHSA, the one dozen new cases of whooping cough involved patients between the ages of six and 16.
This includes: a 12-year-old student at R. Roger Rowe School in the Rancho Santa Fe School District; a 6-year-old student at Cajon Park School in the Santee School District; an 11-year-old who attends Sycamore Canyon Elementary School in the Santee School District; an 11-year-old who attends Heritage Elementary School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District; a 14-year-old student at Hillsdale Middle School in the Cajon Valley Union School District; and two students – ages 15 and 16 – at La Jolla Country Day School in La Jolla.
The HHSA says additional recent cases include a person at Flying Hills Elementary School, two people who attend the San Onofre Child Development Center at Camp Pendleton, a person at Monarch School and a person at Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church Preschool.
All but the latter case involved patients with up-to-date immunizations.
Given the uptick in pertussis cases, county public health officer Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., says it’s important for locals to be up-to-date on their vaccines and booster shot.
“It’s likely that activity levels will remain elevated in the region,” Wooten said.
In order to combat whooping cough, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says children should get doses of the DtaP vaccine at the ages of two months, four months, six months, 15 to 18 months and four to six years. The CDC also recommends that preteens and adults get a Tdap booster shot.
Individuals without medical insurance can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at no cost.
Health officials say pertussis symptoms include a cough and runny nose for one or two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. A mild fever may also arise.
The disease is treatable with antibiotics.
Now, while cases of pertussis have doubled this year, the HHSA says the current number of cases is much lower than the record-setting number reported in 2010.
That year, a total of 1,179 cases of whooping cough were reported across the county, two of which resulted in infant deaths. In 2011, the number declined substantially, with a total of 400 cases reported in San Diego County.
For more information about whooping cough and local vaccination clinics, visit this website or call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966.