Clusters of whooping cough reported in LA County

STUDIO CITY, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Three clusters of whooping cough cases are being reported in Los Angeles County, including at Harvard-Westlake School.

Since November, about 30 students at the school's Studio City and Holmby Hills campuses have gotten the highly contagious sickness. It can be fatal in very young children.

The school says all of the students who got sick had all received their childhood vaccinations.

Health officials are reporting three clusters of cases in LA County among kids aged 11 to 18. Not all of the locations have been publicly identified.

Health critical care specialists call it a nasty sticky bug.

"When the bacteria infects us, it sticks to the little hairs in our trachea. It's a very persistent bug," said Dr. Shant Shirvanian with Adventist Health.

The severe respiratory distress and distinct whooping cough sound can last for weeks.

The treatment for whooping cough, or pertussis, is antibiotics.

But the best way to protect against pertussis is with the diphtheria tetanus pertussis immunization or DTaP. The vaccination is given in infancy followed by a booster dose at age 11 or 12. But the shot doesn't give complete immunity.

"Just because you're vaccinated doesn't mean you won't get whooping cough but it does decrease the chance of you getting severely ill from it." Shirvanian said.

A spokesman for Harvard Westlake reports all of the children who came down with whooping cough were vaccinated.

Pertussis is very contagious and is spread through the air.

"If they are sick they should not come into contact with others. typically one person infected with whooping cough is estimated to infect about 10 to 15 other people around them."

The doctor suggest all adults get a booster shot, especially pregnant women.

The school is taking precautions like sanitizing classrooms, keeping sick kids home and make sure they're checked by doctors before returning to class.
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