California whooping cough outbreak claims its tenth victim, a six-week-old baby in San Diego
The outbreak is the worst in 60 years, Calif health officials say.
Whooping cough (pertussis) is highly contagious disease, however infants under the age of 60 days cannot be vaccinated, medical sources say.
As of posting, about 6,000 have been infected in California; however, whooping cough has also become a nationwide concern.
Child with broken blood vessels in eyes and bruising on face due to pertussis coughing. Source: vaccine Information
“Pertussis is a cyclical disease that has had a five-year wave of historic patterns,” a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health said. “We are at the top of the five-year pattern [in California,]” he said.
In the late 1950s a record 13 people died from pertussis in one year, he said.
About 17,000 cases of pertussis were reported nationwide in 2009. In San Diego County 37 new cases have been reported so far this month.
Pertussis, also known as 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. (Source: CDC)