The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is reporting an increase in clusters of pertussis cases among 11 to 18-year olds across the county.

Los Angeles County map/Thadius856
Los Angeles County map/Thadius856

Health officials note that the overall number of pertussis cases has not yet increased in LA County compared to the prior five years, the number of reported clusters of pertussis cases has risen in 11 to 18-year-olds who share classrooms, carpools/transportation, or extracurricular activities.

Currently, there are three reported clusters in different areas of LA County with a median of 17 cases per cluster.

According to a Patch report, thirty students at the private Harvard-Westlake School campuses in Studio City and Beverly Crest.

The health department is advising providers to consider pertussis even in vaccinated persons with minimal to mild symptoms, especially in adolescents because of the waning immunity from pertussis-containing vaccines and the increased exposure in facilities with multiple cases.

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Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that spreads by coughing and sneezing while in close contact with others. Left untreated, it can spread from a single infected person for several weeks, with people in the early stage of illness being the most contagious.

Whooping cough can be a serious illness. Symptoms usually begin appearing as cold symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, sore throat and usually little or no fever. After several days, the cough may become more severe; it may come in spasms or as a series of coughs without a chance to breathe between coughs. There may be a gasp or “whoop” and/or gagging or vomiting at the end of the coughing spasm.

Infants, particularly those less than six months of age, who contract whooping cough are at increased risk of complications, hospitalization and death.