2 students diagnosed with whooping cough

SAN DIEGO — A seven-year-old Christian Elementary School student who was not current with vaccinations and a nine-year-old student from Urban Discovery Academy who was caught up on the shots were both diagnosed with pertussis and potentially exposed others, according to county health officials.

The students could have exposed other children and staff to the highly contagious respiratory illness, also known as whooping cough, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

A typical pertussis case starts with one to two weeks of a cough and runny nose followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild, according to health officials, who added that the disease is treatable with antibiotics.

Parents who suspect that their children may have been exposed should contact their primary care physicians.

County health officials urged parents to vaccinate kids and teens against whooping cough.

“The pertussis vaccine series and boosters are very effective in protecting children and teens against the disease,” County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. “Since immunities fade over time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pre-teens, adolescents and adults obtain a one-time Tdap booster.”

The CDC also recommends children get doses of the DTaP, which can help prevent diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, at two, four and six months of age, between 15 and 18 months and again at four to six years of age.

The vaccine series can be obtained from a primary care physician or for a fee from a retail pharmacy. Those without medical insurance coverage can get the injection at no cost from a San Diego County Public Health Office.

In San Diego County this year, 122 whooping cough cases have been reported. Last year, 400 were reported throughout the county, officials said.

The HHSA Immunization Branch can be reached at (866) 358-2966 or at sdiz.org for information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics.