An 18-month-old who attends Imagine Kids Planet Preschool in La Jolla has pertussis. The toddler is one of three children at three different schools that contracted pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and may have exposed others to the contagious respiratory disease. The County Health and Human Services Agency announced the three new cases on Wednesday afternoon.
All three children were current with vaccinations, according to the county.
"The reason this disease continues to be a concern is that infants under one year old are especially vulnerable and can develop life-threatening complications. Tragically, two infants in San Diego died during the 2010 epidemic," said Wilma Wooden, M.D. and County Public Health Officer in the announcement. "Often people who have pertussis never realize they have it and may unknowingly expose babies. Vaccinations continue to offer the best protection against this illness."
The two other cases reported on Wednesay were for an 8-year-old who attends Hilltop Drive Elementary School in Chula Vista and a 12-year-old who attends Joan MacQueen Middle School in the Alpine Union School District.
The three cases bring the total number of cases to 134 in the region this year. In 2011, 400 cases were reported locally, according to the county.
Parents can obtain the vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for their children through their primary care physicians. Students who are not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a local retail pharmacy for a fee, or from a County Public Health center.
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. The disease is treatable with antibiotics.
For more information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at 866-358-2966, or visit sdiz.org