Three students diagnosed with whooping cough in San Diego County


HHSA Reports 11 Cases of Pertussis in Region

Parents at three separate schools were told to watch their children for symptoms of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, after three students were diagnosed with the highly contagious respiratory illness, County Health and Human Services Agency officials said today.

This week’s pertussis cases where there is a potential for public exposure are:

  • · A 15-year-old who was not up-to-date on immunizations and attends Mira Mesa High School in the San Diego Unified School District. Contact: Linda Zintz(619) 725-5568.
  • · A 14-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Rancho del Rey Middle School in the Sweetwater School District. Contact: Lillian Leopold(619) 691-5578.
  • · A 7-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Fletcher Hills Elementary School in the La Mesa Spring Valley School District. Contact: David Kinzel(619) 668-5820 ext. 6207.

To date, County public health is reporting 11 cases of pertussis for 2012 with the 2011 case total remaining at 436.
“The single most important way to prevent the illness or minimize the severity of it is to get vaccinated,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “Students who become sick can infect others in their household including infants, who may develop fatal complications.”

No pertussis deaths were reported in California in 2011, but a record 1,144 cases, which included two infant deaths, were reported in San Diego County during the 2010 epidemic.

Parents can obtain the vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for their children through their primary care physician. Students who are not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a local retail pharmacy for a fee, or from a County Public Health Center at no cost.

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. The disease is treatable with antibiotics.

For more information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit