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Whooping Cough on The Rise in San Diego County

Whooping Cough on The Rise in San Diego County
Almost 900 pertussis cases have been identified in San Diego County this year, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported Friday, July 18.
"The county and the state are experiencing an epidemic of pertussis,''
said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer.

The total so far puts the region on track to shatter the recent high for
cases of pertussis -- also known as "whooping cough.''

In 2010, 1,179 cases were reported.

"Infants are at greatest risk for severe illness and death from pertussis, so we are urging parents to vaccinate their children and pregnant women to be vaccinated to
protect their babies," Wooten said.

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 HHSA said there have been 895 confirmed cases of pertussis so far
this year. There were 120 cases reported at this same time last year and a
total of 431 in 2013.

Statewide, the California Department of Public Health reported 5,393
cases of whooping cough through early July, with one fatality -- a 5-week-old
infant who was not in the San Diego area.

San Diego in one of two only regions of Southern California experiencing a higher-than-average occurrence of the disease. 

Antibiotics can prevent spreading the disease to others and can lessen
the severity of symptoms, according to health officials.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that
children get doses of the 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 booster.

Infants younger than a year old are especially vulnerable because they
do not have the full five-dose series of pertussis vaccinations.

Parents can obtain the vaccine series and the booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physician. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee, and anyone not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a county public health center at
minimal or no cost.

Information about whooping cough and vaccination clinics is available at
the HHSA Immunization Branch by calling 866-358-2966, or online at sdiz.org.

--City News Service

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