Desert Sands Unified School District and others are preparing for the worse. The District’s Health Supervisor, Dr. Elka Kelly-Parker says, “Our children won’t be back till August 30th, so where in the preparation phase.” She’s talking about the number of cases of whooping cough on the rise in Riverside County. Students ages 10-12 were urged today to get a booster shot before returning to school.
“Receiving the booster vaccination is an important tool to prevent the spread of whooping cough in our schools,” county Health Officer Eric Frykman said.
While the vaccination is not required it is highly encouraged. The students should have received the vaccination when they were younger and could benefit from a booster shot, Frykman said.
There have been 53 cases reported in Riverside County since Jan. 1, compared to 17 cases during the same period in 2009, according to the county Department of Public Health.
The upward spike in pertussis cases statewide prompted the California Department of Public Health to declare an epidemic last month. There have been 1,496 cases and five deaths reported statewide.
Pertussis usually starts with flu-like symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing, fever and a mild cough. The symptoms may be mild and brief, or last up to two weeks, but are often followed by severe coughing fits that may be associated with vomiting. Dr. Edward Ruiz with Ruiz Family Physicians says if the cough is persistant and doesn’t go away within a week to call your doctor and setup and appointment. Ruiz says he’s seen Whooping Cough cases in his practice recently.
According to the state, cases of whooping cough tend to peak every two to five years. In 2005, California recorded 3,182 cases and eight deaths from the disease.
Whooping cough is highly contagious, and infants are particularly vulnerable to catching the disease when infected people cough, Cole said.
Adults and children can be inoculated against the disease, but teens may be unprotected because booster shots were only recently recommended for them, according to health officials.
More information about whopping cough is available at the state Department of Public Health Web site here.