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8-Year-Old At Pacific Rim Diagnosed with Contagious Whooping Cough

Parents and school staff were notified of a potential exposure to pertussis, also known as whooping cough at the local elementary school in Carlsbad.

County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) officials reported the most recent case of pertussis is an 8-year-old student who was up-to-date with immunizations and attends Pacific Rim Elementary School in the Carlsbad Unified School District.

Parents who suspect their children may have been exposed should contact their primary care physician.They can also obtain the vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physician. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee; anyone who is not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at no cost.

“County public health notifies the public of these cases because pertussis is a highly communicable disease that incubates between 4 to 21 days, but sometimes as much as 42 days,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “The vaccination series and booster protect most everyone from the disease, but if vaccinated people do develop pertussis, the symptoms are less severe.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get doses of DTaP 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 Tdap booster. The ultimate goal is to prevent death that can result as a complication of pertussis. Infants under one year old are especially vulnerable and can develop life-threatening complications.

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.

The Pacific Rim Elementary case brings the total number of cases to 120 in the region this year. A total of 400 pertussis cases were reported locally in 2011.

For more information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit www.sdiz.org.

–HHSA press release

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