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By Miriam Raftery

November 2, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Five new cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, have been reported at area schools this week according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.  The new cases include a student at Maryland Avenue Elementary School in La Mesa here in East County.

There have been 216 cases of pertussis reported in the county so far this year, compared to last year’s total of 165 cases for the entire year, so the rate of whooping cough is on the rise.

County Health officials continue to remind parents to vaccinate their children, although all five new cases last week were among children who are up to date on their vaccines.

Infants under one-year-old are especially vulnerable because they do not have the full five-dose series of pertussis vaccinations.

Parents can obtain the vaccine series and the booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physicians. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee, and anyone who is not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at no cost.

A typical case of pertussis starts with a cough and runny nose 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, but can cause death if left untreated.

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