Whooping cough has officially been declared an epidemic in California and could soon break a 50-year record for infections in one year. Since June 15, 910 cases of the preventable disease have been reported in the state.
Five babies under 3 months of age have died from the infection this year. In 1952, 15 people succumbed to the lung disease.
Cases of whooping cough, the common name for “pertussis,” has increased fourfold since last year. Deaths from the disease have been reported from around the state.
Health officials urge all parents to vaccinate their children against whooping cough. Plenty of the vaccine is available, they say.
Whooping cough is cyclical, with the number of reported cases peaking every three to five years. Babies who haven’t begun immunizations against whooping cough — or whose shots were incomplete — are particularly vulnerable. Children 11 to 18 may need a booster shot to ensure continued immunity.
The infection starts as a cough and running nose, which lasts a couple of weeks. The cough escalates over weeks and months and turns into fits which often have a whooping sound at the end. There is rarely fever.