County whooping cough cases second highest in state

July 22, 2010

With 258 cases of whooping cough, San Luis Obispo County is ranked in the top two for the number of pertussis cases in the state, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Six infants have died in California of whooping cough this year, all under three month of age, in what appears to be the state’s worst whooping cough epidemic in 50 years.

Last week, Public Health officials expanded their vaccination recommendations to include women of child bearing age, any one who comes in contact with pregnant women or children and anyone who is not fully vaccinated.

“Pertussis is highly contagious and can be fatal for young infants,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, public health officer. “The symptoms are typically not as severe in adults, so it often goes untreated and is easily passed to infants who are not fully immunized until they are six months old.

“Most adults who were immunized as children no longer have that immunity as the shots we receive as children wear off by the time one finishes middle school.”

Symptoms of pertussis include a cough lasting longer than two weeks, increasing in severity and episodes of sudden, severe coughing and vomiting after coughing. Infants may become pale or dusky blue during a coughing episode and may stop breathing for a short period of time.

To prevent further cases locally, San Luis Obispo County Public Health is making the vaccine available to anyone in the above groups at its three locations in Paso Robles, Grover Beach and San Luis Obispo by appointment.

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