The number of pertussis cases in the San Diego region continues to climb, with 26 new illnesses diagnosed over the past week, including one at Pepper Drive School in the Santee School District, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported Tuesday.
The Santee case follows two other students diagnosed at Cajon Park and Sycamore Canyon schools the week before.
The new cases of the disease -- also known as whooping cough -- puts the total for 2013 so far at 360, more than double last year's 165. However, the figure is far short of the 2010 record of nearly 1,200.
"Pertussis activity continues to be high, and parents should make sure their children have received all the recommended doses of the vaccine," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer.
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, according to the HHSA.
Fever, if present, is usually mild. Antibiotics can lessen the severity of symptoms and prevent the spread of disease to others, the agency said.
Of the 26 cases reported last week, seven might have exposed others. The HHSA said those occurred at Pepper Drive School in the Santee School District, the San Diego Center for Children, North County Community Services in Vista, North Coast Church in Vista, Joan MacQueen Middle School in the Alpine Union School District, Queen of Angels Church in Alpine, and the Alpine Dance Academy in Alpine.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get doses of the vaccine at the following ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years. A booster shot is also recommended for preteens and adults.
"The ultimate goal is to prevent deaths that can result as a complication of pertussis," Wooten said. "Infants under one year of age are especially vulnerable because they do not have the full series of pertussis vaccinations."
Parents can obtain the vaccine series and the booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physicians. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee, and anyone who is not covered by a medical insurance plan can get a free shot from a County Public Health Center.
More information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics can be obtained from the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or online at www.sdiz.org.
-City News Service