Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, continues to sicken San Diego County children.Ten new cases were reported this week, including a 3-year-old at La Jolla Presbyterian Church Preschool in La Jolla, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced Wednesday, and others may have been exposed.
“A greater number of children are getting sick with pertussis this year,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Parents or guardians should make sure their children have received all the recommended doses of the pertussis vaccine.”
There have been 198 pertussis cases reported in San Diego so far this year. Only 39 cases had been reported by this time last year. A total of 430 pertussis cases were reported in 2013. A high of 1,179 cases was reported in 2010.
“It is extremely important that parents, caregivers and educators observe their children for symptoms of the disease so that those who are infected can get treatment immediately and don’t infect others,” Wooten added.
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 lessen the severity of symptoms and prevent the spread of disease to others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get doses of DTaP 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 Tdap booster. Infants younger than 1 year old are especially vulnerable because they do not have the full five-dose series of pertussis vaccinations.
Parents can obtain the DTaP vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physicians. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee, and anyone who is not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at minimal or no cost.
All of the new pertussis cases reported were up-to-date for their age on immunizations.
For more information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966 or visit