NORTH COUNTY – Parents and staff of a North County school were notified of a potential exposure to pertussis, also known as whooping cough, after a child was diagnosed with the contagious disease, County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) officials said Nov. 9.
The most recent case is an 8-year-old student who was up-to-date with immunizations and attends Pacific Rim Elementary School in the Carlsbad Unified School District.
Parents who suspect their children may have been exposed should contact their primary care physician. They can also obtain the vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physician. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee; anyone who is not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at no cost.
“County public health notifies the public of these cases because pertussis is a highly communicable disease that incubates between 4 to 21 days, but sometimes as much as 42 days,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “The vaccination series and booster protect most everyone from the disease, but if vaccinated people do develop pertussis, the symptoms are less severe.”
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.
The Pacific Rim Elementary case brings the total number of cases to 120 in the region this year. A total of 400 pertussis cases were reported locally in 2011.
For more information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch toll free at (866) 358-2966 or visit