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Seven area students diagnosed with whooping cough

Seven San Diego-area students, including five at an Encinitas elementary school, have been diagnosed with whooping cough, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced on Tuesday.

The affected students are a 6-year at Capri Elementary School in Encinitas, three 11-year-olds and two 10-year-olds at Mission Estancia Elementary School in Encinitas and a 13-year-old student at Options Secondary School-MAST Program in the Sweetwater Union High School District, according to the HHSA.

County health officials were working with officials at the three schools to notify staff and parents about the outbreak.

Whooping cough, also called pertussis, can occur at any age, but infants and young children are at highest risk of life-threatening complications, the most common of which is pneumonia, according to the HHSA.

Whooping cough usually starts with flu-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, fever and a mild cough. The symptoms may be mild and brief, or last up to two weeks, but are often followed by severe coughing fits that may be associated with vomiting.

There have been 37 reported cases of whooping cough in San Diego County so far this year, according to the HHSA. There were 143 cases of the disease locally last year.