Health officials in El Dorado County and across California are seeing an uptick in pertussis cases and emphasizing the importance for children and adults to remain up to date on immunizations.
Ten cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, have been reported in El Dorado County this year. That’s more than twice the number of cases reported last year, County Health Officer Dr. Alicia Paris-Pombo said.
Six cases were reported in South Lake Tahoe and four cases were reported on the West Slope. None have been fatal.
As of June 10 there have been 3,458 cases of pertussis reported statewide. One resulted in the death of an infant.
Pertussis, a contagious respiratory tract infection that spreads through coughs and sneezes. The cyclical disease typically peaks every three to five years and the last peak occurred in 2010, when El Dorado County had 54 cases and California had more than 9,400 cases.
Disease symptoms typically start with a cough and runny nose for one or two weeks, followed by weeks or months of coughing fits that sometimes end with a “whooping” sound. It is considered especially dangerous for unimmunized and incompletely immunized infants, according to county health officials.
Babies and children under six can be protected by completing the DTaP vaccine series of five shots, typically given at two, four, six and 15 to 18 months of age with a booster dose at kindergarten entry. Adults and children over age 11 who previously received the series can receive protection against pertussis with one dose of booster vaccine called Tdap.
To prevent the spread of pertussis, health officials recommend:
• Pregnant women get the pertussis vaccine booster during their third trimester because immunity passes to the baby, providing some protection after birth and before the child can be vaccinated.
• Infants get vaccinated as soon as possible. The first dose is routinely recommended at two months of age, but because it is circulating, infants can be vaccinated as young as six weeks of age.
• Adults get the vaccine booster, especially if they have contact with infants or pregnant women.
The El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency, Public Health Division offers low-cost vaccinations for people who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover vaccinations as well as for children with Medi-Cal. For more information call 530-573-3155.