The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has developed a plan to guide the local response to the statewide epidemic of pertussis (whooping cough). The rate of disease in Santa Barbara County remains at the average annual rate, but the number of cases is expected to increase over the summer. The full plan can be found on the PHD Web site at sbcphd.org.
Santa Barbara County has not yet seen an increase in the number of pertussis cases locally. Between January and June of 2010, the county had six confirmed or probable cases. In light of the statewide epidemic, the Public Health Department has prepared to protect residents, especially infants who are most vulnerable to severe illness. Key elements of the local plan are:
• Provide up-to-date information and guidance to county residents, health-care providers, public agencies, and county government.
• Describe the disease and case definitions.
• Recommend health-care providers adopt the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) strategy of “Think, Test, Treat, Report, and Prevent Transmission”.
• Direct a public health response to investigate reported cases to interrupt the spread of disease and monitor the epidemic within the county.
• Advise and encourage residents of the County to be vaccinated against Pertussis, especially high risk groups and close contacts to infants.
• Issue links to resources for all groups to access information and materials that will assist in preventing the spread of pertussis in the county.
Infants under six months of age are at high risk for contracting pertussis and suffering the life-threatening consequences of infection. All the reported deaths (5) in California for 2010 have been infants under six months of age. The primary goal of a public health response is to prevent infection in infants. The most important method is vaccination of the infant and all those who come in contact with infants including mothers, fathers, siblings, relatives, child-care providers, and health-care workers.