Public Health DivisionHealth and Human Services Agency


Sheila Cox, BSN, NP
Communicable Disease Controller
(707) 253-4231
Health and Human Services Agency
Public Health

2344 Old Sonoma Road Building G
Napa, CA 94559

Howard Himes
Director of Health and Human Services

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) cases up sharply in Napa County

Public Health Officer urges vaccination

(NAPA, Calif-) Pertussis (Whooping Cough) cases are on the rise in Napa County, with 17 cases reported so far in 2014 and nine cases reported in the last two weeks. In 2013, there were 13 pertussis cases reported for the entire year. All but three reported cases this year have been in children of middle school or high school age.

With pertussis spreading so quickly, Napa County Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith again urges vaccination of women in their third trimester of pregnancy to protect vulnerable infants. Although pertussis usually only results in a severe cough for older children and adults, it is a potentially deadly infection for infants under six months of age, who are much more likely to require hospitalization and may die if they become infected. 

Fortunately, vaccinating pregnant women during their third trimester provides protection of the infant both through transfer of antibodies from the mother before birth and by protecting the mother from becoming infected and passing the infection on to the young infant. Vaccination of others, such as family members and childcare providers, who may also come in contact with the infant is also important.

Pertussis is cyclical, with peaks every three to five years. California last experienced a pertussis epidemic in 2010, when more than 9,100 cases were reported statewide and 10 infants died. All of Napa’s neighboring counties are also currently experiencing a high incidence of pertussis.

Napa County Health & Human Services Agency – Public Health Division (NCHHSA – PHD) consistently encourages education, good hygiene, immunizations, diagnosis and appropriate treatment and staying home when ill. Any person, regardless of vaccination status or prior disease history of pertussis, who has an acute cough illness should go to their provider for testing. Sometimes there are no other symptoms (cold-like symptoms typically precede cough; fever is usually absent).

Any pregnant women in her third trimester who has an acute cough illness lasting more than five days without other explanation should be tested for pertussis. Infants less than 6 months of age infected with pertussis typically have a different clinical presentation than older children and adults. They may have no apparent cough and parents may describe episodes in which the infant’s face turns red or purple.

The most important strategy to prevent infection in vulnerable infants is Tdap vaccination of pregnant women. All pregnant women should receive Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, preferably in the third trimester, regardless of their vaccination history. To maximize the maternal antibody response and passive antibody transfer to the infant, optimal timing for Tdap administration is between 27 and 36 weeks gestation. Any family members or close contacts to the family with an infant should be vaccinated.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in February 2012 recommended Tdap for all adults aged 65 years and older. This recommendation supersedes previous Tdap recommendations regarding adults aged 65 years and older.


Contact your health care provider with any questions about pertussis or vaccination. 

The Board of Supervisors and staff of Napa County are dedicated to preserving and sustaining Napa County for present and future generations as a community with generous open space, a thriving agricultural industry and a quality human and natural environment.


Media Release Summary