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Whooping Cough Epidemic Declared in California

Posted by feww on June 15, 2014


3,458 reported cases, two infant deaths, prompt authorities to declare statewide Pertussis Epidemic in Calif.

The Golden State has reported 3,458 cases of the disease including two infant deaths, so far this year.  The figure is reportedly on track to reach or surpass the 9,163 cases reported in 2010—the last epidemic year.

California health authorities have declared a pertussis epidemic after a 20-folds increase in the number of infections was reported over that last two weeks. Statewide cases soared from about 90 per month to more than 800 since June 1, a two-week period.

Meantime, director of the California Department of Public Health has urged “all pregnant women to get vaccinated.” He has also urged “parents to vaccinate infants as soon as possible.”

Infants aged 12 months or younger face the greatest risk of illness or death from pertussis infection, said CDC.

What’s Pertussis (Whooping Cough) – sourced from CDC

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.

These bacteria attach to the cilia (tiny, hair-like extensions) that line part of the upper respiratory system. The bacteria release toxins, which damage the cilia and cause inflammation (swelling).

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.

infannt diagnosed with pertussis
A female infant diagnosed as pertussis. Pertussis is a highly communicable, vaccine-preventable disease due to Bordetella pertussis, a gram-negative coccobacillus, lasting for many weeks and typically afflicts children with severe coughing, whooping, and posttussive vomiting.

Transmission [sourced from CDC]

Pertussis is a highly contagious disease found in humans and is spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents or caregivers who might not even know they are carrying the bacteria. Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within 7–10 days after being exposed, but sometimes not for as long as 6 weeks.

While pertussis vaccines are the most effective tool available to prevent this disease, no vaccine is 100% effective. If pertussis is circulating in the community, there is a chance that a fully vaccinated person, of any age, can catch this very contagious disease. For those vaccinated, the infection is usually less severe.

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