After steady warnings this year about the increasing pace of diagnosed pertussis cases in San Diego County, the number has climbed over 500, San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency said.

The count reached 520, more than seven times the number of cases of the illness commonly known as “whooping cough” that were counted at this point in 2013, according to the county.

Whooping cough. Photo credit: Akron Childrens/YouTube
Whooping cough. Photo credit: Akron Childrens/YouTube

The total for all of last year was 431.

“Pertussis tends to peak in cycles, and the last time we saw activity like this was in 2010, when a record 1,179 cases were reported,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer. “We strongly encourage both children and adults to be up-to-date on their vaccinations, especially if they are around young children.”

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.

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 whooping cough 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 whooping cough vaccinations.

– City News Service