Pertussis (whooping cough) is being reported throughout San Diego County with 39 new cases confirmed this week, including 18 ill individuals who may have exposed others to the contagious disease, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency.

Pertussis cases now total 337 in the region this year, far more than the 56 cases reported at this point in 2013.  The final tally of cases for 2013 was 430. A high of 1,179 cases was reported in 2010. New cases at the 15 locations where the public may have been exposed are listed below.

“Pertussis activity is accelerating at a much faster pace than last year,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “It’s important that children have the scheduled doses of the vaccine and adults get the necessary booster shots.

“We know the vaccine’s effectiveness lessens over time but it’s still the best defense against the spread of pertussis.”

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 lessen the severity of symptoms and prevent the spread of disease to others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following vaccination schedule:

  • Young children need five doses of DTaP by kindergarten: at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years.
  • All students entering 7th grade need proof of a whooping cough booster immunization (Tdap).
  • A Tdap booster is recommended for pregnant women during their third trimester of each pregnancy, even if they got a booster before becoming pregnant.
  • One dose of Tdap is recommended for adults 19 years of age and older who did not get Tdap as an adolescent.

Parents can obtain the DTaP 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 minimal or no cost.

For more information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit www.sdiz.org.

All of the new pertussis cases reported at the following locations were up-to-date for their age on immunizations:

  • A 7-year-old at Burton C. Tiffany Elementary in the Chula Vista Elementary School District
  • A 8-year-old at Bobier Elementary School in the Vista Unified School District
  • A 9-year-old at Chaparral Elementary School in the Poway Unified School District
  • A 9-year-old at Jamacha Elementary School in the Cajon Valley Union School District
  • A 13-year-old at Hidden Valley Middle School in the Escondido Union School District
  • A 13-year-old at Chula Vista Learning Community Center in the Chula Vista Elementary School District
  • A 14-year-old and a 16-year-old at Mission Vista Elementary School in the Vista Unified School District
  • A 14-year-old at Rio Seco Elementary School in the Santee School District
  • An 15-year-old at Hilltop High School in the Sweetwater Union High School District
  • Two 15-year-olds at Steele Canyon High School in the Grossmont Union High School District
  • A 15-year-old and a 16-year-old at San Pasqual High School in the Escondido Union High School District
  • A 16-year-old at Rancho Buena Vista High School in the Vista Unified School District
  • A 16-year-old at Torrey Pines High School in the San Dieguito Union High School District
  • A 16-year-old at Santana High School in the Grossmont Union High School District
  • An individual at Charter School of San Diego in San Diego