Whooping cough bedevils county



Whooping cough is still slowly spreading in San Luis Obispo County, according to figures just released by the county health agency. As of Aug. 4, San Luis Obispo County’s whooping cough count has reached 276 confirmed, probable, and suspect cases.  Eleven of those cases involve infants younger than one year old, two of whom were hospitalized.

County officials are worried about the potential for infection when school starts. “We are tremendously concerned about an explosion of cases in the fall,” said Ann McDowell, a county epidemiologist. “We are encouraging kids older than 10 or 11 to get booster shots.”

The disease first appeared this year in the county in late April when a few cases were seen in local clinics and hospitals. Signs of the disease include symptoms similar to the common cold, followed by a cough that lasts for weeks, episodes of severe coughing along with whooping, and sometimes vomiting. A child in the throes of whooping cough may turn blue from lack of oxygen. The disease is very contagious and can be transmitted by anyone who has been close to a carrier.

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