How to protect your family amid whooping cough outbreak in Marin County

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Friday, March 29, 2024
How to protect your family amid Marin Co. whooping cough outbreak
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, continues spreading around Marin County. Here's how to protect yourself.

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, continues spreading around Marin County. Since December, county health officials say they've seen 113 cases across their area with 65 of them coming from Tamalpais High School.

"Typically starts off very non-specific and very mild with a runny nose. It can be a sore throat or even some fatigue. A couple of days or even up to a week later is when the cough starts," said Lindsey Termini. Termini is a nurse with Marin County Communicable Disease.

RELATED: Marin Co. issues whooping cough advisory due to ongoing outbreak largely impacting Tamalpais High

She says if you feel sick, you should see your doctor and get tested.

If that test comes back positive, Termini says there are rules you should then follow.

"We do recommend that you isolate during your infectious period and isolate at home. So, no school, no work," Termini said.

While most cases in the county are tied to the high school, doctors say for teenagers whooping cough usually isn't very serious. For other age groups though, like infants, it can be deadly.

"Often they're not vaccinated enough. So for infants under two (months old), we don't give the pertussis vaccine until babies are two months old. So if babies were to get that illness before the vaccine, it'd be a much more serious illness," said Dr. Lisa Dana.

Dr. Dana is a pediatrician at Golden Gate Pediatrics.

She says in recent times, outbreaks of whooping cough seem to have become cyclical with new ones happening about every three to five years.

MORE: Study finds whooping cough vaccine safe for pregnant women

"It's not clear if it's just the efficacy of the vaccine, if it's waning after five years and not as strong," she said.

County health officials say so far no cases in infants, nor hospitalizations, have been reported.

The Tamalpais Union High School District says while masking isn't required at this time, they're recommending it to anyone with a cough or cold symptoms.

Taking as many precautions as possible to keep people safe.

"We're making sure that everyone knows to get up to date on their pertussis vaccine. There's a childhood schedule and an adult schedule," Termini said.

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