Mt. Woodson Elementary student tests positive for whooping cough

A Mt. Woodson Elementary student has been diagnosed with pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency officials said today.

The 9-year-old was up-to-date with immunizations. When the county informed the Ramona Unified School District that a student had been diagnosed with whooping cough, the district informed Mt. Woodson families via letters. By then, the boy was well and had returned to school, said Dr. Robert Graeff, district superintendent.

This brings the region’s total to 379 cases so far this year, compared to 683 cases confirmed in the first nine months of last year, county health officials report. For all of 2010, there were a record 1,144 cases reported in San Diego County, including two infant deaths.

“Ordinarily more pertussis cases are reported in the summer months, but that did not occur this year,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., county public health officer. “Whooping cough cases have decreased significantly as compared to this same time last year. We continue to remind parents to stay vigilant with immunizations to help protect their children at school this fall.”

A state law requires 7th-graders through 12th-graders to show proof they have received the Tdap booster shot before they can attend classes. AB 354 was passed as a result of the 2010 statewide pertussis epidemic.

Parents can get the Tdap booster shot for their children through their primary care physician. Students who are not covered under a medical insurance plan may obtain the shot from a 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 www.sdiz.org.

   
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