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Published On: Fri, Jun 13th, 2014

California: Whooping cough at ‘epidemic proportions’, according to health officials

In a follow-up to a story May 31 concerning the pertussis situation in California, health authorities in the state say that pertussis has reached “epidemic proportions” after reporting some 800 cases in the past two weeks.

Photo credit: CDC/ Amanda Mills

Photo credit: CDC/ Amanda Mills

As of June 10, there have been 3,458 cases of pertussis reported to CDPH in 2014, more than were reported in all of 2013. Pertussis is cyclical and peaks every 3-5 years. The last peak in California occurred in 2010, so it is likely another peak is underway.

“Preventing severe disease and death in infants is our highest priority,” says Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and state health officer. “We urge all pregnant women to get vaccinated. We also urge parents to vaccinate infants as soon as possible.”

Infants too young to be fully immunized remain most vulnerable to severe and fatal cases of pertussis. Two-thirds of pertussis hospitalizations have been in children four months or younger. Two infant deaths have been reported.

The Tdap vaccination for pregnant women is the best way to protect infants who are too young to be vaccinated. All pregnant women should be vaccinated with Tdap in the third trimester of each pregnancy, regardless of previous Tdap vaccination. In addition, infants should be vaccinated as soon as possible. The first dose of pertussis vaccine can be given as early as 6 weeks of age.

Older children, pre-adolescents, and adults should also be vaccinated against pertussis according to current recommendations. It is particularly important that persons who will be around newborns also be vaccinated.

“Unlike some other vaccine-preventable diseases, like measles, neither vaccination nor illness from pertussis offers lifetime immunity,” says Dr. Ron Chapman. “However, vaccination is still the best defense against this potentially fatal disease.” For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pertussis, aka whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.

Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breathes which result in a “whooping” sound. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age.

The best way to protect against pertussis is immunization.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Whooping Cough Has Been Reported in a Californian CityBig Online News | Big Online News says:

    […] Health CrisisCalifornia Reports Whooping Cough Epidemic; More Than 800 Cases Over Past 2 WeeksCalifornia: Whooping cough at ‘epidemic proportions’, according to health officials – Th…Illegals starting to spread whooping cough var TubePressJsConfig = […]

  2. Los Angeles on track to top 2010 pertussis totals | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] California Department of Public Health declared a state‐wide epidemic of pertussis in June 2014. In Los Angeles County, 435 lab‐confirmed and probable cases, and another 386 […]

  3. A fifth of children visiting their doctor with a persistent cough could have whooping cough, even though most have been fully vaccinated « Clinicalnews.org says:

    […] California: Whooping cough at ‘epidemic proportions’, according to health officials (theglobaldispatch.com) […]

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