The count of whooping cough cases so far this year in San Diego County is up to 337, only 93 fewer than all of last year, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced today.
The HHSA said 39 new cases of the illness, also known as pertussis, were confirmed this week.
At this point last year, 56 cases had been reported. According to the HHSA, 430 people were diagnosed with pertussis in 2013.
"Pertussis activity is accelerating at a much faster pace than last year," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer. "It's important that children have the scheduled doses of the vaccine and adults get the necessary booster shots."
The vaccine's effectiveness lessens over time, but it's still the best defense against the spread of the disease, 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.
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 1 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