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Whooping Cough On The Rise In San Diego County

The number of whooping cough cases in San Diego County so far this year is nearly double the level for all of 2009, and is on track to set a new record, it was announced today.

So far this year, there have been 266 cases of whooping cough locally, compared to 143 last year, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

Fifteen infants have been hospitalized with the disease, also known as pertussis, but no cases have been fatal, according to the HHSA.

HHSA officials said the number is on course to break the record of 371 cases of whooping cough set in 2005.

"We're seeing a level of pertussis we haven't seen in the last five years," said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the county's deputy public health officer.

"Pertussis cases seem to surge every five years or so, but this spike

is raising concerns and has reached epidemic levels statewide,'' he said. "We are well on our way to reach our highest totals in decades here in San Diego County."

Health officials encouraged residents to get the proper vaccinations for the disease.

Whooping cough is highly contagious, and infants and young children are particularly vulnerable. The disease usually starts with flu-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, sneezing, fever and a mild cough.

The symptoms may be mild and brief, or last up to two weeks, but are often followed by severe coughing fits that may be associated with vomiting, according to the HHSA.

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