Six cases of whooping cough reported in county schools, including one case at Del Mar Heights

By City News Service

Six cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, were reported at schools in San Diego County this week, bringing the total to 232 cases so far this year, according to county health officials.

Cases of whooping cough reported this week involved a 6-year-old at Turtleback Elementary School, an 11-year-old Del Mar Heights Elementary School student, a 12-year-old student at Murray Manor Elementary School, a 15-year-old Academy of Our Lady of Peace student and two 15-year-old Grossmont High School students.

All but one were up-to-date on their immunizations, according to county officials.

Last year, 162 cases were reported. According to officials with the San Diego County Health and Human Services agency, 142 of those cases had been reported by this time last year.

`Pertussis is not at the alarming levels of the epidemic in 2010, but we are seeing many more cases than last year at this time,’’ county public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. The majority of cases are in the 10- to 18-year-old age group and that’s why it’s important that preteens and adults get their necessary booster shot.’’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get the DTaP vaccine at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and between 4 to 6 years. Preteens and adults should get a Tdap booster.

Retail pharmacies offer the vaccine series and the booster for a fee, and those without medical insurance can get the shots at no cost from a County Public Health Center, county officials said.

There is some evidence that protection provided by the vaccine weakens after time, but the best defense against pertussis is still to get the shot and protect yourself and those around you,’’ Wooten said.

According to heath officials, a typical pertussis case starts with one to two weeks of a runny nose, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild, according to health officials.

The disease can be treated with antibiotics.

   
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