Whooping cough cases confirmed in San Benito County

SAN BENITO COUNTY, Calif. - Three cases of whooping cough have been confirmed in San Benito County and now the health department is asking folks to get vaccinated. 

San Benito County Public Health Services predicts more cases of whooping cough will arise. 

The symptoms of whooping cough vary by age. For children, whooping cough typically starts with a runny nose and cough for one to two weeks. The cough then worsens and often results in rapid coughing spells that end with a whooping sound. Young infants may not have typical whooping cough symptoms and may have no apparent cough. Parents may describe episodes in which breathing briefly stops and the infant’s face turns red or purple. For adults, whooping cough may be a cough illness that lasts for several weeks.

Infants too young for vaccination are at greatest risk for life-threatening cases of pertussis. Each year, 50–200 California infants are hospitalized with pertussis. CDPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that expectant mothers receive the whooping cough booster shot (also called Tdap, or tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine) at the earliest opportunity between 27 and 36 weeks of every pregnancy, even if previously immunized.

Health officials said getting immunized during pregnancy boosts a mother’s immunity and passes on protective antibodies directly to their babies before birth. This helps protect newborns until they are old enough to begin receiving their own whooping cough immunizations at 6 to 8 weeks of age. Even one dose may offer some protection against potential fatal whooping cough disease in infants.

Dr. Gail Newel, San Benito County’s Health Officer, agrees. “It is so important that every pregnant woman receives a pertussis vaccine during each pregnancy. This provides protection to her newborn baby until they are old enough to be vaccinated.”

To avoid the spread of whooping cough, CDPH recommends that:

  • Parents immunize their babies against whooping cough as soon as possible.
  • California 7th grade students receive the whooping cough booster, Tdap.
  • Adults receive a whooping cough booster once in their lives.


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