California’s whooping cough epidemic continues

Just when everyone was concerned about the H1N1 Influenza epidemic, California health officials found themselves confronted with a name from the past: whooping cough.

California public health officials declared a whooping cough epidemic in mid-July, citing the more than 1,500 cases of the disease occurring in California so far this year. That number represents a fivefold increase over 2009, and is the biggest outbreak of the disease since 1958. As of July, five children in California have died of the disease.

The symptoms? The Mayo Clinic states that at first, the symptoms of whooping cough resemble those of a typical cold with a mild fever. But after a week or so the symptoms worsen, with thick phlegm and extreme fatigue present, and a distinct ‘whoop’ sound made when someone affected draws breath after a coughing fit.

So what caused the epidemic? According to ABC News, gaps in vaccination coverage may be playing a role. Vaccination rates for whooping cough have to reach 93 percent before a community can be considered safe from an epidemic according to the report. But in California, the vaccination rates for some communities hover around 80 percent, with some school districts reporting vaccination rates as low as 30 percent.

The bottom line? Get those immunizations. They can protect not only your own children, but the community at large. And if you have those symptoms, see your doctor.

Want to know more about whooping cough? Click to read an informative Whooping Cough Fact Sheet, produced by Fresno County.

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