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Whooping Cough Shows Up In Four County Schools

Four cases of whooping cough were reported at four San Diego County school sites, and students and staff may have been exposed, county health officials said Friday.

Two years after a KPBS/inewsource investigation posed serious questions about how well the whooping cough vaccine works, new research confirms the vaccine is failing at a higher rate than expected.

According to the county Health and Human Services Agency, cases of whooping cough reported this week were an 8-year-old who attends Rancho De La Nacion School in National City and was up-to-date on immunizations; a not-immunized 14-year-old student at Correia Middle School in San Diego; a vaccinated 15-year-old at San Dieguito High School Academy in Encinitas; and a vaccinated 17-year-old who attends Patrick Henry High School in San Diego.

This year, 66 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, have been reported in San Diego County. Last year, 165 cases were reported, and a record 1,144 cases of the contagious respiratory illness were reported in 2010, according to the HHSA.


"We are seeing far fewer cases here than we did in 2010, but these ill students are a reminder that whooping cough has not gone away,'' county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. "We encourage parents to make sure their children are up-to-date with the recommended doses of pertussis vaccine.''

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children get doses of DTaP vaccine at 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 Tdap booster.

According to the HHSA, retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee, and anyone without medical insurance can get the shot from a county public health center at no cost.

Pertussis usually starts with one to two weeks with 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 county health officials, who added that the disease is treatable with antibiotics.