County of Marin Health and Human Services

Public Health Newsletter


Influenza activity has increased significantly in California and in Marin County over the last few weeks, and influenza A (H3N2) is currently predominating this season. In general, H3N2 is associated with more deaths and hospitalizations in persons 65 years and older and in children under 2 years old. Marin County Emergency Departments (EDs) are managing a high volume of influenza patients. Most patients evaluated for influenza-like illness (ILI)1 in EDs are sent home. Clinicians can help protect ED resources for patients who require emergency response by managing lower risk ILI on an outpatient basis. While vaccine effectiveness this season is lower than most years, the recommendations for immunization with seasonal influenza vaccine remain the same. Even when vaccine effectiveness is limited, immunization prevents illnesses and hospitalizations, decreases severity of disease, and offers protection against other strains of influenza that are circulating.  


Additional Resources Marin County Public Health –



PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY: Facts About Mask Protection October 13, 2017 Northern California Fires Affecting Marin Air Quality: The fires in Northern California are impacting air quality across the region. The best way to protect yourself from health effects of wildfire smoke is to limit your exposure. Will a face mask protect me from wild fire smoke? The following do not protect your lungs from wildfire smoke: - Bandanas or towels (wet or dry) or tissue held over the mouth and nose: this may relieve dryness but won’t protect your lungs from wildfire smoke - One-strap paper dust mask or a surgical mask that hooks around your ears: these don’t protect against the fine particles in smoke For those who cannot avoid prolonged activities outdoors “Particulate respirator” masks (respirator masks) labeled N95 or N100 may provide some protection: they filter out fine particles but not hazardous gases - The respirator masks do not seal well on people with facial hair or beards -Individuals with respiratory conditions should consult their doctor before using a mask— masks may limit air flow and make it more difficult to breathe. - Respirator masks should not be used on young children: they don’t seal well enough to provide protection What can I do to protect myself? Limiting exposure to wildfire smoke by remaining indoors is the primary goal. Depending on your situation, a combination of the strategies below may work best and give you the most protection from wildfire smoke. Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce indoor air pollution. Avoid smoking tobacco, using wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, burning candles, incenses or vacuuming. Minimize the amount of time spent outdoors as much as possible. Avoid vigorous outdoor activities. Drink plenty of water Listen to your body and contact your healthcare provider or call 911 if you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe fatigue, dizziness, or worsening of asthma or chronic respiratory illness PG. 2 OF 2 For those who wish to use an N-95 mask, these may be available at hardware stores or from online retailers As always, if you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1. Follow @MarinHHS or for updates For up to date information about fires in California go to: For up to date information about air quality in the Bay Area go to:


AVISO DE SALUD PÚBLICA: Datos sobre la protección con máscara October 13, 2017 Incendios en el norte de California afectan la calidad del aire en Marin: Los incendios en el norte de California están afectando la calidad del aire en toda la región. La mejor manera de protegerse contra los efectos adversos para de la salud del humo de los incendios descontrolados es limitar su exposición. ¿Me protegerá una máscara facial contra el humo de los incendios? * Los siguientes no protegen sus pulmones del humo de los incendios: - Los pañuelos o toallas (húmedos o secos) o pañuelos desechables colocados sobre la boca y la nariz: estos podrían aliviar la sequedad pero no protegerán sus pulmones del humo de los incendios. - Una máscara antipolvo de papel de una sola cinta o una máscara quirúrgica con cintas que se pasan por atrás de las orejas: éstas no protegen contra las partículas finas en el humo * Para aquellos que no puedan evitar actividades prolongadas al aire libre las máscaras "respiradoras para partículas" (máscaras respiratorias) etiquetadas como N95 o N100 pueden brindar cierta protección: filtran las partículas finas pero no los gases peligrosos - Las máscaras respiratorias no sellan bien en personas con vello facial o barba - Las personas con afecciones respiratorias deben consultar a su médico antes de usar una máscara - las máscaras pueden limitar el flujo de aire y dificultar la respiración. - Las máscaras respiratorias no deben usarse en niños pequeños: no sellan lo suficientemente bien como para ofrecer protección ¿Qué puedo hacer para protegerme? Limitar la exposición al humo de incendios descontrolados permaneciendo en el interior es el objetivo principal. Dependiendo de su situación, una combinación de las siguientes estrategias puede funcionar mejor y darle la mejor protección contra el humo de los incendios. * Mantener el aire interior lo más limpio posible. Mantener cerradas las ventanas y las puertas. * Usar un filtro de aire de partículas de alta eficiencia (HEPA) para reducir la contaminación del aire en el interior. * Evitar fumar tabaco, usar chimeneas o estufas que queman leña, prender velas o incienso, o utilizar aspiradora. PÁG. 2 DE 2 * Minimizar la cantidad de tiempo que pasa al aire libre tanto como sea posible. Evitar actividades vigorosas al aire libre. * Beber abundante agua * Escuche a su cuerpo y comuníquese con su profesional de la salud o llame al 911 si tiene dificultad para respirar, dolor en el pecho, fatiga severa, mareos o empeoramiento del asma o enfermedad respiratoria crónica * Para aquellos que deseen usar una máscara N-95, éstas tal vez se puedan conseguir en ferreterías o en tiendas en línea Como siempre, si usted o alguien que usted conoce tiene una emergencia, llame al 9-1-1. Siga a @MarinHHS o para las últimas noticias Para obtener información actualizada sobre incendios en California, consulte: Para obtener información actualizada sobre la calidad del aire en el Área de la Bahía, consulte:

Northern California Fires Affecting Marin Air Quality: Health Tips for Marin Residents The multiple fires currently burning in Napa, Sonoma and other northern counties are affecting our air quality and have created a potential health hazard in Marin County. For General Public: Please be aware that with shifting winds and poor wildfire containment air quality can change drastically in a short period of time. Smoke from wildfires can affect health. The most common symptoms are eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing.


Follow these precautions to protect your health and those with health problems, especially heart or respiratory conditions, should take extra caution:  

  • Minimize outdoor activities Stay indoors with windows and doors closed as much as possible
  • Do not run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside
  • Run your air-conditioner only if it does not bring smoke in from the outdoors
  • Consider leaving the area until smoke conditions improve if you experience symptoms related to smoke exposure

For Outdoor Workers:

  • Limit exertion
  • Take frequent breaks
  • If prolonged outdoor activity is unavoidable, proper masks (for example N95 masks) can protect against harmful exposure

Consult with your employer if you have specific concerns For Schools:

  • Outdoor activities should be limited
  • Windows and doors should be kept shut as much as possible
  • When air quality is unhealthy activities such as athletic events or practices should be cancelled or rescheduled
  • Watch for symptoms and take action as needed
  • Students with asthma should follow their asthma action plans and keep their quick-relief medicine close at hand

When to Seek Medical Attention:

  • Contact your health care provider if you experience the following symptoms that do not improve after moving indoors or into a safe air quality environment
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Palpitations
  • Nausea or unusual fatigue
  • Lightheadedness and/or feeling faint
  • As always, if you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency, call 9-1-1.
  1. Follow @MarinHHS for updates
  2. For up to date information about fires in California go to:
  3. For up to date information about air quality in the Bay Area go to: http://ttp://

12 de octubre de 2017
Incendios en el norte de California afectan la calidad del aire de Marin: Consejos de salud para los residentes de Marin
Los incendios múltiples que arden actualmente en los condados de Napa, Sonoma y otros del norte están afectando la calidad de nuestro aire y han creado un posible peligro para la salud en el condado de Marin.

Para el público en general:
Por favor tenga en cuenta que debido a los vientos cambiantes y la expansión descontrolada de los incendios, la calidad del aire de puede cambiar drásticamente en un corto período de tiempo.
El humo de los incendios puede afectar la salud. Los síntomas más comunes son irritación de los ojos y la garganta, tos y dificultad para respirar. Siga estas precauciones para proteger su salud, y las personas que tengan problemas de salud, sobretodo afecciones cardíacas o respiratorias, deben extremar precauciones:

  • Minimizar las actividades al aire libre
  • Permanecer en interiores con las ventanas y las puertas cerradas tanto como sea posible
  • No activar ventiladores que introduzcan el aire con humo del exterior
  • Usar su aire acondicionado sólo si no introduce humo del exterior
  • Considerar abandonar el área hasta que las condiciones de humo mejoren si tiene síntomas relacionados con la exposición al humo

Para trabajadores al aire libre:

  • Limitar el esfuerzo
  • Tomar descansos frecuentes
  • Si no se puede evitar la actividad al aire libre, las máscaras apropiadas (por ejemplo las máscaras N95) pueden proteger contra la exposición dañina.
  • Consultar con su empleador si tiene preocupaciones específicas
  • Para escuelas:
  • Se deben imitar las actividades al aire libre
  • Se deben mantener cerradas las ventanas y puertas tanto como sea posible
  • Cuando la calidad del aire es insalubre, las actividades como prácticas o eventos deportivos deben ser canceladas o reprogramadas
  • Estar alerta a los síntomas y tomar las medidas necesarias
  • Los estudiantes con asma deben seguir su plan de acción contra el asma y tener a la mano su medicina de alivio rápido

Cuándo buscar atención médica:
Comuníquese con su profesional de la salud si tiene los siguientes síntomas que no mejoran después de meterse bajo techo o moverse a un ambiente con buena calidad del aire.

  • Falta de aliento o problemas para respirar
  • Respiración ruidosa
  • Dolor o opresión en el pecho
  • Palpitaciones
  • Náusea o fatiga inusual
  • Mareo y/o sensación de desmayo

Como siempre, si usted o alguien que usted conoce tiene una emergencia, llame al 9-1-1.
Siga a @MarinHHS para las últimas noticias
Para obtener información actualizada sobre incendios en California, consulte:
Para obtener información actualizada sobre la calidad del aire en el Área de la Bahía, consulte:

Northern California Fires- Smoke Advisory: Current Situation

Air quality in Marin County has been affected by multiple fires in Napa and Sonoma County. While concentrations of smoke vary depending upon location within Marin, all areas have been affected and all residents are being exposed. Smoke from wildfires is expected to continue as the wildfires are not yet contained. There are no fires in Marin County as of this afternoon. Smoke can cause eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing. People who are at greatest risk of experiencing symptoms are: Young children, older adults, pregnant women, or people with respiratory conditions (such as asthma or emphysema) or heart conditions: We are advising these sensitive populations to stay indoors, avoid prolonged activity, and seek medical help if respiratory symptoms worsen. When smoke levels are high, even healthy people may experience symptoms such as coughing, a scratchy throat, irritated sinuses, shortness of breath, headaches, stinging eyes, and a runny nose. All residents should limit outdoor physical activities and stay indoors if at all possible. As a precaution, Health and Human Services has recommended that all outdoor sporting activities for children be cancelled.

For up to date information about fires in California go to:

For up to date information about air quality in the Bay Area go to:

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is urging all Californians, in an effort to prevent Zika and  West Nile Virus infections and eliminate mosquito populations, to remove standing water around their homes and businesses.  There is also updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Zika testing in pregnant women.  Visit Marin HHS' Zika web page for more information. 



Marin County’s track record of being one of the healthiest counties in California is intact, according to new statistics, but several significant issues remain for those who deliver health care and other wellness services.

Dr. Matthew Willis, the County's Public Health Officer, says known problems with substance use were one contributor to Marin receiving the No. 2 ranking rather than No. 1.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released its annual rankings of California’s 58 counties, and Marin came in at No. 2 this year behind San Mateo County. Marin had been ranked No. 1 in statewide health for seven consecutive years.  The County Health Rankings data give a glimpse of a community’s health and provide a starting point for investigating and prioritizing ways to improve health.

“As the safety net for our community, our goal is to create a safe and healthy community for all our residents,” said Board of Supervisors President Judy Arnold. “We have a lot to be proud of, but major challenges remain in the areas of income inequality, affordable housing, binge drinking, and prescription drug abuse.”

Marin retained the top spot statewide in overall health factors such as education, employment, family and social support, and community safety.

Dr. Matthew Willis, the County’s Public Health Officer, said one contributor to the change in ranking is known problems with substance use.

“Compared to other counties, we lose points for having higher rates of adult binge drinking, drunk driving deaths, and drug overdose rates,” Willis said. “This is another sign that these are issues we need to take seriously.” 

Marin experienced a spike in accidental drug overdoses from 2012 to 2014, the time period reflected in the latest rankings for that category. In response, the County helped create a grassroots initiative called RxSafe Marin in 2014 to tackle prescription drug abuse. The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services and several other County departments are involved and shepherding positive change.

“We've made some progress since 2014, and we’re losing fewer people to overdoses, but we have long way to go,” Willis said.

Marin was worse than the state average in income inequality and still experiences a large division between the top and bottom ends of the income spectrum. Marin consistently shows a low rate of children in poverty (9 percent), but social inequity came to light as the foundation broke down the statistics by race for the first time. Thirty percent of African-American children and 24 percent of Hispanic children experience poverty compared with 4 percent of white children.

As a countermeasure, the County has made steady progress on many fronts with social equity, and the Board of Supervisors made equity a priority in its 2016 State of the County message. It is working to preserve existing affordable housing, helping underserved residents visit and enjoy parks and open spaces, and making its annual County Fair one of the healthiest of its kind in the country, and improving access for disabled visitors at County-maintained pathways, park trails and buildings.

“Our scores did not change dramatically from last year,” Willis said. “San Mateo has made substantial progress and that’s good news. No one is backsliding here: San Mateo is raising the bar and it’s up to us to meet the challenge.”

This communication is for those who have been contacted by the Public Health Department by phone the week of January 9-13, 2017

For contacts of Bacterial Meningitis case:

The purpose of this letter is to inform you that you may have had contact with a person who had meningococcal meningitis. For that reason, we encourage you to contact your health care provider or go to Urgent Care to discuss possible preventive treatment with antibiotics (post-exposure prophylaxis).

Close contact includes:

  • household members
  • persons who frequently eat or sleep in the same house
  • persons who spent 4-6 hours per day together
  • persons who have come in close contact with the saliva or respiratory secretions of an infected person.

Preventive antibiotic treatment is recommended for individuals who are close contacts of someone who had meningococcal disease. Ciprofloxacin 500mg one tablet effectively prevents disease.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease include, but are not limited to:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Rash

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately for evaluation. 


Flu Is Here! On December 1st, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the first influenza-associated fatality in a person under the age of 65 for the 2016-2017 flu season.  It is mandatory to report laboratory-confirmed influenza cases who require admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) and/or who die at any location (i.e. home, hospital, ER).  Visit for the most up-to-date information about current influenza activity in Marin. 

In the summer, pediatric patients visit their doctors for health examinations for school entry and pre-participation physical examinations. These are opportunities to discuss both required and recommended vaccinations (e.g., HPV, meningitis). With the introduction of SB277, parents may be seeking temporary and/or permanent medical exemptions for required vaccinations. Visit our Immunization Program website for forms and guidance on medical exemptions or call (415 473 3078) or email ( Danielle Hiser, RN, PHN, Immunization Coordinator, with any questions.

Many college campuses are experiencing mumps outbreaks. Summer is around the corner, and students from colleges and universities will intermingle, increasing risk for mumps transmission.  Contact the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control unit at (415) 473-7805, if you have any questions. 

For the seventh straight year, Marin holds the title of the healthiest County in California, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Despite the best overall rating, persistent health and social inequities remain a challenge for Marin health officials.

The annual County Health Rankings were released today, and Marin shines in many measures of health. The rankings consider two main health outcomes: premature death and quality of life, and multiple factors that affect health including behavior, clinical care, the physical environment, and social and economic factors.

For example, Marin ranks highest in life expectancy and lowest rates of adults reporting fair or poor health and teen births. Marin is No. 2 among counties with a high number of adults with a healthy body weight and low rate of unemployment and violent crime.

“Community investments such as reserving land for open space and social norms around healthy eating and staying active have helped Marin maintain our ranking,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “However, the rankings also reflect major disparities across Marin and help us know where we need to prioritize our work. For example, we need to focus on increasing equity in health care coverage, access to health food, early childhood education, and job training so everyone has an opportunity to optimize his or her health.”  

Marin ranked poorly – No. 54 out of 57 counties reporting – in income inequality, a measure that focused on the ratio between those with the highest incomes (above 80 percent of the median) and the lowest incomes (below 20 percent of the median). The County also fared poorly in one of the foundation’s new additional measures: racial segregation between whites and non-whites. Marin came in No. 50 among the 56 counties reporting. Racial segregation can translate to disparities in income, educational opportunities and work opportunities – all three of which lead to poor health outcomes.

When it comes to opportunities to live a long and healthy life, a few miles can make an enormous difference in Marin. There is a 15-year gap between life expectancy in Ross (94) and Marin City (79), a disparity that correlates with the per capita income.

Marin HHS is working in communities to help improve life expectancy. The Nutrition Wellness Program works with schools that have high obesity rates, which is known to drive heart disease and other conditions that lead to premature death. In Marin City, for example, Marin HHS supports nutrition education, walk to school programs, school gardens, and marketing to attract health-conscious grocery stores.

“While there are signs of progress, we’re more vulnerable than these rankings suggest,” said Dr. Matt Willis, the County’s Public Health Officer. “There is much more to do to achieve health equity in Marin. We need to continue to bolster programs and policies that address poverty, jobs, housing, and education.”

The County has made steady progress on many fronts with social equity, and the Board of Supervisors has made equity a priority. For instance:

  • It has made a commitment to preserve existing affordable housing, explore ways to acquire more affordable housing and encourage landlords to adhere to voluntary rent guidelines.
  • Marin County Parks is in its third year of a program designed to help more Marin residents, especially the underserved, to visit and enjoy parks and open spaces.
  • The Marin County Fair and Play Fair Marin have partnered for 14 years to build and maintain a healthy and successful fair as well as create a resource guide for ongoing and future success.
  • The Department of Public Works is diligent in its efforts to improve disability access and safety at County-maintained facilities, such as widening a popular pathway in the lower Ross Valley.
  • The County has even launched a TV series to promote education on mental health.

Other community efforts working to alleviate poverty and promote success of Marin residents are Rise Together, Marin Promise, and Marin Strong Start.

County fairs are not known for healthy food and drink. The Marin County Fair is an exception. We received the 2015 Merrill Award by the Western Fairs Association for its Play Fair health initiatives. The fair is a strong reflection of the community health values in Marin. The Play Fair team shared their model in this Growing Healthy Events Guide.

The number of reported outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis due to norovirus in Marin County has increased significantly since October, 2015. While this is consistent with the seasonal nature of norovirus, the California Department of Public Health has announced higher than usual activity state-wide. In Marin, affected facilities have included adult congregate living facilities and childcare centers. The duration of most of the outbreaks is a few days to two weeks, reflecting both the natural history of the illness and the control measures taken by the facilities. Information about norovirus can be found here.

This month there was an outbreak of influenza A at a local skilled nursing facility.  During our investigation, the first influenza-associated fatalities were announced for California, which included an infant, an adult and an elder. These events remind us that influenza can cause serious illness or death across the lifespan.  Visit for links to clinical information and surveillance reports.  The first of our regular seasonal influenza surveillance reports for 2015-2016 will be released in early December.

Since 2009, Marin County has seen an increase in syphilis cases, as is being seen regionally. In 2014, there were 20 cases reported. 19 of these were men, and most were men who have sex with men (MSM). USPSTF recommends that providers screen those at increased risk for syphilis infection, including MSM. The CDC recently updated its Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, which are now available as a mobile app.

FREE flu shots! October 17th at Novato High School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Available while supplies last, regardless of insurance, ages 3 years and up. Kaiser patients will have their information updated for them. The school is at 625 Arthur Street, and the clinic is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m

Dr. Matthew Willis, the County’s Public Health Officer, says a flu shot is the single best defense against influenza, which can lead to a lot of time missed at school or work. The flu virus can spread one day before symptoms develop and up to a week after someone becomes sick, so protect yourself, your family and friends by getting your flu shot.  

Marin HHS staff and emergency medical personnel will be on hand to administer the vaccine. All County staff members are disaster service workers as well, and they are treating the Novato flu shot clinic as a “point of dispensing” to simulate an emergency need to dispense medicine to, or vaccinate, the whole community. The recent wildfires in Lake County and the 2014 earthquakes in Napa have reminded us all about the need for training and preparedness.

“Leadership plays a great role in responding to any disaster, and Health & Human Services is committed to preparing staff for emergency response,” said HHS Projects Coordinator Kristen Seatavakin. “We are looking forward to using this chance to improve the department’s ability to respond and to recognize where we may need to build larger capacity.”

The flu begins with an abrupt onset of fever, muscle aches, sore throat and cough that often make people sick enough to keep them in bed for several days. Flu can be especially dangerous for young children, seniors, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommends basic steps to prevent and stop the spread of influenza and other respiratory illnesses in addition to getting the flu vaccination. These include:

  • Stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading illness to those around you.
  • Do not go to work when ill, particularly if you work with vulnerable populations.
  • Wear a face mask when coming within six feet of a sick person.
  • If you are sick, wear a facemask before going near other people.
  • Restrict visitation with vulnerable populations while you are ill.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to get rid of most germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay healthy with a balanced diet, plenty of water and adequate rest and exercise.

Stay up to date with information regarding this season’s flu activity and additional options for flu vaccination by visiting


Marin County is known for high average life expectancy and wide health disparities between communities.  Differences in cardiovascular mortality rates drive the 17 year gap in life expectancy within our county.  In order to focus our understanding of this complex problem and to prioritize programs toward early prevention, a new Health Equity initiative concentrates on 1) childhood healthy weight and 2) access to primary care for all.  The initiative is summarized here.

Any providers in the state Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, and any healthcare workers who would like to learn more about childhood vaccines and vaccine preventable diseases are invited to an Immunization Update Conference. Co-sponsored by the health departments of Marin and Sonoma counties, this event features speakers from the California Department of Public Health Immunization Branch. Join us Friday, June 19, 8:00 -11:30 AM, at the Petaluma Health Center. For more information or to RSVP, please call Danielle, our Marin Immunization Coordinator, at 415-473-3078 or click here.

In 2014, 21 Marin County residents were diagnosed with HIV. In recent years, an increasing proportion of those newly diagnosed are Latinos or African-Americans and individuals under the age of 30. Over the past four years, approximately one in four people diagnosed with HIV in Marin had AIDS upon entry into care. Health care providers should remain aware of HIV trends and screening standards to ensure timely diagnosis and early intervention. Please see the Marin County HIV fact sheet here.

coughing infantThe California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported approximately 10,000 cases of pertussis throughout California in 2014--the highest number in recent memory. CDPH has stated that pertussis has become endemic in California and high numbers of pertussis cases are expected to persist.

Marin County Public Health recommends:

  1. Vaccinate all susceptible individuals against pertussis according to the ACIP schedule and implement cocooning strategy around infants. The pertussis vaccine can prevent the disease or attenuate the severity of the disease.
  2. Think pertussis. Enquire if other household members are or have been recently sick with a respiratory illness, particularly characterized by paroxysmal coughing and post-tussive emesis.
  3. Test for pertussis. People who have been vaccinated for pertussis often present with mild symptoms. Have a high index of suspicion and a low threshold for testing and evaluating individuals for pertussis.
  4. Treat pertussis cases with a course of appropriate antimicrobial therapy.

Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for high risk close contacts of pertussis cases.

  • Infants
  • Pregnant women in their third trimester
  • Household contacts, particularly if there is an infant or a third trimester pregnant woman in the household.
  • Close contacts of high risk individuals (infants and pregnant women)
  • Individuals who visit a sensitive setting or work in sensitive occupations, e.g., day care or health care

Isolate known or suspected pertussis cases and symptomatic close contacts until three full days of antibiotics have been completed and until the cough is manageable; or until the lab test result is received and is negative for pertussis.

Pertussis is especially severe in infants and very young children and can present as an acute cough illness of any duration. Typically, it starts with cold-like symptoms (coryza, sneezing, occasional cough). Fever is absent or minimal. This stage lasts 1-2 weeks with the cough gradually becoming more severe. Spasms of severe coughing are followed by a sudden deep inspiration, often resulting in a characteristic "whooping" sound especially in infants and very young children. Post-tussive vomiting is common in all ages. Illness may be milder in previously vaccinated people. Classic pertussis is 6-10 weeks in duration, but cough may last longer in some people.

Pertussis is highly contagious. Transmission typically occurs when a susceptible person inhales aerosolized droplets from the respiratory tract of an infected person.

Period of communicability: Persons one year of age and older are considered infectious from the onset of cold-like symptoms until completion of three days of treatment or until 21 days after cough onset if no or partial treatment is given. Infants < 1 year are considered infectious for six weeks without treatment.

While questions regarding acellular vaccine efficacy are being addressed, vaccination remains the only avenue to reducing bacterial burden in the community and still offers individual protection and moderation of disease severity.

The Public Health investigation will consist of attempting to contact the case to ascertain if there are high risk individuals inside or outside of the household who need chemoprophylaxis. High risk household contacts will be referred to their usual source of care for chemoprophylaxis.

For more information about pertussis:

To report pertussis cases, please call:

Marin County Communicable Disease Prevention and Control at phone: 415-473-7805 or 415-473-4163, or fax: 415-473-6002 Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. On weekends, holidays, and after 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, call 415-499-9464 and ask to speak with the Health Officer on call.