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California’s Whooping Cough

Rayna Fields

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Whooping cough ImageWhooping cough (pertussis), a highly contagious respiratory tract infection, is now an epidemic in California.

The state has reported the highest number of cases within 50 years.

As of July of this year, California has had 1,500 new cases of the contagious disease. That’s five times as many then in 2009.

“Within three to five years, pertussis has made an increase,” said Castro Valley Pediatrics pediatrician, Dr. Jerrilyn Johnston. “Mothers are unknowingly passing it on to their babies.”

The number of cases in Alameda County is alarming.

“In 2009, there were only 9 cases of pertussis in Alameda County,” said Johnston. “That number jumped to 76 cases as of July 27 of this year. However, 7 babies have died in Alameda County this year.”

Although pertussis is highly contagious, there are ways to prevent it. There are also ways to detect whether you have pertussis by either getting a culture test, a nasal swab, or a polymerase (PCR) test.

“Babies at the age of 2 months and their mothers should get the pertussis vaccine,” said Johnston. “Taking antibiotics helps make it less likely to spread the disease if someone has it.”

It is also important for children to vaccinated again due to pertussis vaccinations lasting only a few years. Mothers should be mindful of getting their child vaccinated before school starts as well.

“Pertussis can be spread at any age and it is important to get the vaccinated to insure that you won’t get it,” said Johnston.

California State University East Bay
California’s Whooping Cough