Two cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, were reported at two local schools, potentially exposing students and staff to the highly contagious respiratory infection, County Health and Human Services Agency officials said Sepy. 6
The new cases bring the region’s total for pertussis to 88 so far for 2012. Pertussis was diagnosed in an 8-year-old, who attends Cook Elementary School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District and a 13-year-old, who attends Carmel Valley Middle School in the San Dieguito Union High School District. Both students were up-to-date on immunizations, health officials said.
“Check with your family physician to make sure everyone has all the required vaccinations to protect them against this disease,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., county public health officer. “Some people can still contract pertussis even if they are vaccinated, but symptoms will usually be milder than when someone is unvaccinated.”
The CDC 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. The ultimate goal is to prevent deaths which can result as a complication of pertussis. Infants under one year old are especially vulnerable.
Parents can obtain the 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 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 www.sdiz.org.