California Whooping Cough Turns Into Epidemic


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California's whooping cough problem has gotten bad and is on the verge of being considered an epidemic. There have been at least 800 new cases reported in the state within the last two weeks.

As of June 10, the Department of Public Health has recorded 3,458 cases this year. This is more than what was reported during the entire year in 2013.

Whooping cough symptoms include a cough and runny nose before the cough worsens and begins eventually making a whooping sound, this is where the name of the disease comes from. Babies, especially infants may not have a cough but their faces will turn red and sometimes even purple.

Because the symptoms of the disease mimic those of so many other common diseases such as the flu or a cold, many people wait to be treated or brush the disease off as something that they can get over themselves. This is one of the reasons the disease is spread so easily.

Whooping cough can affect anyone but it most commonly contracted by newborn babies and the elderly who have weakened immune systems or have not been vaccinated for the disease. Whooping cough vaccinations are fairly new and doctors all over the country are strongly urging anyone who has not been vaccinated to get the shots.

Two newborns have already died from whooping cough in California this year.

“Our biggest concern is always infants,” Stacey Martin, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of bacterial diseases, said in an interview. “There’s a gap in coverage between birth and the first vaccine.”

Pregnant women can be vaccinated for the disease and their unborn child will be born with some protection from it as well. The CDC recommends infants be vaccinated as early as six weeks after birth because the protection they get from their mother's vaccine will wear off by then. The CDC also recommends that everyone be vaccinated to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Have you been vaccinated for whooping cough?

Image via Wikimedia Commons