Whooping cough epidemic in San Diego

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Heard more people coughing around you lately? Well it isn’t just a coincidence. The number of whooping cough cases, also known as pertussis, is on the rise and close to setting a new record in San Diego County.

This highly contagious disease can affect adults, children and infants. State officials have said 2010 has been a year of a number of new cases. In 2009 there were 143 cases of whooping cough, so far this year there have been 266 cases in the county alone. According to the San Diego Health and Human Services agency 15 infants have been hospitalized, but there have been no fatalities.

The year is a little more than half way over and from the looks of it, if new cases keep emerging the record from 2005 of 371 cases may be bypassed.

Nicknamed the ‘whooping cough’ after the ‘whoop’ sound made before or after a serve cough attack when the person tries to breath. The disease may cause the person rib fractures or difficulty while sleeping due to these cough spells.

“California has declared a statewide whooping cough epidemic,” said Dean Sideliner, M.D., M.S Ed., County Deputy Public Health Officer. “We are seeing increased activity here in San Diego County and its important for parents to be aware of the prevalence of pertussis in our community right now.

Sideliner also stated that occasionally there is a rise in the number of cases seen every five years or so. The increased numbers are cause for alarm. Children are the most susceptible to whooping cough. The majority of new cases were children ages 4 to 12-years-old.

Whooping cough begins in a similar manor to the flu. Symptoms in the beginning include runny nose, fever, mild cough and sneezing. These symptoms may remain fairly normal for the first two weeks, but if they progress violent coughing fits accompanied by vomiting can begin.

There is a vaccine available and health officials strongly encourage adults and children get the vaccine. It is called “Tdap” which will protect the body from Pertussis, Tetanus and diphtheria.

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