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Posted by: thepinetree on 06/23/2010 06:05 PM Updated by: thepinetree on 06/23/2010 06:25 PM
Expires: 01/01/2015 12:00 AM

Whooping Cough [Pertussis] Case in Calaveras

San Andreas, CA...The Calaveras County Public Health Department has reported a case of pertussis (whooping cough) in a 66 year old resident of Angels Camp. On June 18 the California Department of Public Health declared that a pertussis epidemic is in progress, however this is the first case of pertussis reported in the County for 2010. As of June 15, there have been 910 reported cases in California and five deaths. All of the deaths have been in infants under 3 months old. An additional 600 cases statewide are under investigation. This is four times the number of pertussis cases reported in 2009. Increases in pertussis cases are highest in the Central Valley and Bay area...

Pertussis is an infection of the throat and lungs caused by a bacteria. It is easily spread to others who are nearby when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Pertussis starts as a cold-like illness with running nose, sneezing and a mild, occasional cough. The cough gradually becomes more severe. Most persons will have bursts of numerous rapid coughs. The severe coughing usually lasts for several weeks. Pertussis is treated with antibiotics. The Public Health Department advises persons with symptoms of pertussis to contact their doctor or clinic right away.

Pertussis can occur in all age groups. Most persons recover over several weeks without lasting problems. Persons at high risk of severe pertussis illness are infants less than six months old, premature infants, pregnant women, those who recently gave birth, persons with a weakened immune system or with a severe underlying disease such as chronic lung disease.

Infants are most likely to have severe illness and complications. “Pertussis is a very serious disease for young infants who may require hospitalization and in some cases results in death,” stated Dean Kelaita, MD, County Health Officer. Pertussis in infants is often the result of infection from a youth or older adult in the household who is ill.

“It is most important to protect babies under six months who are either too young to receive the vaccine or are not fully protected until the vaccine series is completed,” stated Kelaita. Protection starts with immunizing those who live with and care for the infant. This circle of protection is referred to as cocooning.

Immunization with pertussis vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the disease. The Public Health Department is urging parents to check their family members’ shot records to see if they are protected from pertussis. Pertussis vaccine is recommended for infants starting at age two months. By the time a child is 15-18 months old, they should have received 4 doses to be protected. Booster doses of pertussis-containing vaccine are needed at 4-6 years and again at 11-12 years of age. Adults should have at least one dose of Tdap vaccine. “The booster dose for youth and adults is especially important for persons who have contact with infants, including parents, siblings, child care workers and health care personnel,” said Dr. Kelaita. Many adults are not aware that boosters are needed to protect them and their family members.

The Public Health Department offers immunizations at community clinics in Valley Springs, San Andreas, Arnold, and West Point. Information about pertussis and the immunization clinic schedule are available by calling 754-6460 or on the website at

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