Whooping cough. Photo credit: Akron Childrens/YouTube

With more than 800 pertussis, also known as whooping cough, cases in the last two weeks, California health officials declared on Friday that the state is experiencing an epidemic.

In San Diego County, there have been 621 confirmed pertussis cases this year so far, compared to just 80 at this point in 2013.

State officials say pertussis is cyclical and peaks every 3-5 years. Pertussis activity hit a record high in 2010 with 1179 cases. There were 431 total cases in 2013.

We may be experiencing another peak, health officials say.

“People should be vigilant for the signs of pertussis and people who have a persistent cough should get checked to ensure they aren’t spreading it,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “The cycle of pertussis activity seems to peak every 3-5 years and 2014 is unfortunately shaping up to be another peak year.”

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.
Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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.

There were 19 new cases reported this week where the public may have been exposed, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency. Those new cases are listed below. All of the new pertussis cases reported at the following locations were up-to-date for their age on immunizations, except for the three cases noted:

  • An individual at KinderCare in San Marcos
  • A 6-year-old, a 9-year-old and a 10-year-old at Marshall Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District
  • An 8-year-old who was not up-to-date with immunizations at Lake Elementary School in the Vista Unified School District
  • An 8-year-old at Sunset Hills Elementary School in the Poway Unified School District
  • A 15-year-old at Carlsbad High School in the Carlsbad Unified School District
  • An 11- year-old at Twin Oaks Elementary School in the San Marcos Unified School District
  • An 11-year-old who was not up-to-date with immunizations at Marston Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District
  • A 12-year-old who was not up-to-date with immunizations at Encinitas Country Day School in Encinitas
  • A 13-year-old at Meadowbrook Middle School in the Poway Unified School District
  • A 13-year-old at Carmel Valley Middle School in the San Dieguito Union High School District
  • A 13-year-old at Carlton Oaks School in the Santee School District
  • A 13-year-old and a 14-year-old at Lewis Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District
  • A 14-year-old at La Jolla High School in the San Diego Unified School District
  • A 14-year-old at Magnolia Science Academy in the San Diego Unified School District
  • A 16-year-old at Mount Carmel High School in the Poway Unified School District
  • A 17-year-old at Junipero Serra High School in the San Diego Unified School District

— County News Center & California Department of Health press releases

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