Pertussis Cases Soar in California

The number reported this year through April, 1,711, more than tripled the number during the same period in 2013.

Pertussis (whooping cough) cases, which are preventable through immunizations, are rising in California, causing Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health and the state health officer, to issue a warning last week. The department has received reports of 1,711 cases of pertussis in the first four months of 2014, more than tripling the number of cases during the same period in 2013.

"Pertussis peaks in incidence every three to five years," he said. "The last peak in California was in 2010, and now we are concerned that the recent increase in reported cases suggests that another cyclical peak is beginning."

Infants too young to be fully immunized are most vulnerable to severe and fatal cases of pertussis, and most of the 77 hospitalized cases this year in the state are children three months of age or younger. Two pertussis deaths, the first reported in California since 2010, were infants. To prevent severe pertussis in infants, CDPH and CDC recommend that pregnant women receive a pertussis vaccine booster during the third trimester of each pregnancy and that infants be vaccinated as soon as possible.

A state law in California requires that seventh grade students receive the pertussis vaccine booster, according to CDC.

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