21 cases of whooping cough reported last week in county

By City News Service

Another 21 cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, were reported in the past week in area children, according to the San Diego County Department of Health and Human Services.

Those 21 youngsters may have exposed other children, the HHSA warned.

The total number of San Diegans sickened by pertussis is up to 579, far above last year’s 143 and the previous record of 371 set in 2005.

“A high level of what is called ‘community immunity’ is needed to help stop the spread of pertussis,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer. “Immunity wanes over time, and a booster shot is an important step in helping to increase immunity.”

Adults should check with their primary care physicians to make sure they are up to date with their shots, Wooten said. People should have a petussis booster every 10 years, she said.

The state of California has declared a pertussis epidemic.

Of the new cases, the ages ranged from 2-13 and most were current with their immunizations, prompting the HHSA to lower its recommended age for a childhood booster from 10-11 to 7-9 years old.

Vaccination clinics are scheduled Saturday at the San Ysidro Port of Entry and Sunday at a half-dozen Northgate Markets around the county.

Pertussis typical starts with a cough and runny nose for up to two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound.

The illness, which might include a mild fever, is treatable with antibiotics.