San Diego County facing rising whooping cough numbers

Twenty-one new cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, have been reported in teens and children at 17 schools around San Diego County, California, raising the total reported cases this year in the county to 931.

That number greatly surpasses the 143 reported cases last year. The previous high in San Diego County of 371 in 2005, San Diego 6 reports.

The San Diego County Health and Human Service Agency has reported the deaths of two San Diego-area infants as a result of the disease, which is now considered to be an epidemic in California, according to San Diego 6. The officials have asked residents to get vaccinations against the disease for themselves and their children.

“In response to the state whooping cough epidemic, the state recently passed a new law that will require a Tdap vaccine for students 10 years old and up,” Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county’s public health officer, said, according to San Diego 6. “Previously, the booster shot was only a recommendation, but next year, children will need to have proof of the immunization before starting middle school.”

While protecting against pertussis, the Tdap vaccine also protects against diphtheria and tetanus. The symptoms of pertussis start with a runny nose and cough for up to two weeks, followed by weeks or months of rapid coughing fits that may end with a whooping sound. The illness might also include a mild fever and is treatable with antibiotics.