3 students diagnosed with whooping cough

SAN DIEGO -- Three young students from three San Diego schools were recently diagnosed with pertussis, also known as whopping cough, county health officials say.

The students range in age from 4 to 7, and one contracted the disease despite being up-to-date with immunizations, according to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency.

The new cases bring the total number of pertussis cases in the county this year to 382. In 2010, there were a record 1,144 cases reported in the county. In two of those cases, infants died.

A new state law took effect for the 2011-2012 school year, requiring all students in grades 7-12 to be vaccinated against pertussis with a Tdap booster shot. The law was a direct result of the 2010 statewide pertussis epidemic, county health officials said.

"Whooping cough vaccinations are the best way to protect children from this highly infectious disease that can be deadly to infants who are unvaccinated or not completely vaccinated,'' said Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County's public health officer.

The new cases reported this week were:

  • a 7-year-old who attends Avocado Elementary School in the Cajon Valley School District;
  • a 4-year-old who attends Reformation Lutheran Church Preschool and Flip Force Gymnastics, both in Kearny Mesa;
  • and a 6-year-old who attends Innovations Charter School in Scripps Ranch.