Updated 05:00 PM EDT, Thu, Jun 21, 2018

Whooping Cough Cases on the Rise in San Diego County

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Despite vaccinations, the disease popularly known as whooping cough seems to be making a comeback in certain parts of the country.

The rate of whooping cough, or pertussis, cases is running high in San Diego County as 10 new diagnoses were reported last week, the county Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday, according to KPBS.

The number of reported cases of whooping cough this year is also far outpacing last year's rate. Almost 200 cases of the disease have been logged in 2014 so far, which is nearly half of 2013's total of 430. By this time last year, only 39 cases had been reported.

New research confirms that the vaccine is failing at a higher rate than expected.

"A greater number of children are getting sick with pertussis this year," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer. "Parents or guardians should make sure their children have received all the recommended doses of the pertussis vaccine."

She added that it's critical for parents to recognize symptoms quickly so that those sick with pertussis can get immediate treatment, and prevent the illness from spreading.

The CDC describes whooping cough as "a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, whooping cough may eventually turn more serious, particularly in infants." The illness can be easily prevented with vaccination, however, the CDC also recommends that all adults have their vaccine updated, since it can wear off over time.

The CDC also recommends five doses within the first six years of life and that all pregnant women get the vaccination between the 27th and 36th week of pregnancy.

Pertussis is caused by the spread of the Bordetella pertussis bacterium through coughing and sneezing and can resemble a bad cold.

"Pertussis is highly infectious and can cause serious complications, especially in babies, so people should take it seriously," said Dr. Lisa Cornelius, DSHS infectious diseases medical officer.

Once you become infected with whooping cough, it can take one to three weeks for signs and symptoms to appear. Symptoms are usually mild at first and include runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, red, watery eyes, fever and dry cough. After a week or two, signs and symptoms worsen as thick mucus accumulates inside your airways, causing uncontrollable coughing.

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