Whooping cough cases more than double since 2009

By City News Service

The number of cases of whooping cough stands at 336 in San Diego County so far this year, compared to 143 cases of the disease in all of 2009, health officials reported Wednesday.

A half-dozen new cases of whooping cough, also called pertussis, were reported this week, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. The latest cases were in children ages 3 to 10, according to the HHSA.

“Whooping cough continues to have a strong presence in our community,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “It is extremely important for parents to make sure their children have received all recommended pertussis vaccinations.”

To date, there have been 19 hospitalizations due to complications from whooping cough, according to the HHSA. Fifteen of those hospitalized were infants 6 months old or younger.

A month-old boy, who had been diagnosed with whooping cough, died at Rady Children’s Hospital last month.

The California Department of Health has declared whooping cough an epidemic in the state.

HHSA officials said the number of cases of the disease in San Diego County has already broken the previous record of 271 in 2005.

Pertussis often starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes ends with a whooping sound, according to the HHSA. The disease is treated with antibiotics.