Whooping Cough Epidemic Hits California: Thousands At Risk?


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The state of California is faced with a serious epidemic.

In just the past two weeks, there were 800 new cases of pertussis, also known as “whooping cough”. According to California’s public health department. the total number of confirmed cases in 2014 is 3,458.

That number far exceeds the total number of cases reported in 2013. Even more startling, the actual number of cases may be higher than what is officially on record.

CNN reports that previous studies have shown that for every instance where someone reports the illness, ten other cases are not counted.

This means there are thousands more cases that aren’t diagnosed, possibly contributing to the quickness with which whooping cough seems to be spreading.

The worrying rise in cases has led some to question the effectiveness of the vaccine meant to protect against whooping cough.

Experts believed that the vaccine, which was first recommended to children in 1997, wanes more quickly than originally thought.

There was even a booster program created in response to the devastating 2010 whooping cough outbreak. That year there were close to 10,000 cases reported and 9 deaths.

This outbreak is so recent, it’s impossible to tell whether or not the current strands of infection are connected to the 2010 cases.

It is known that thus far 3 times as many case have been reported as in the same window last year.

The concern over whooping cough isn't limited to the state of California. The CDC stated that the total number of cases reported has risen by 24% across the country.

The best defense in the eyes of many medical experts remains routine vaccinations. Many children are vaccinated against whooping cough before the age of 11 and receive a booster shot in their teenage years. It’s not unheard of for a person to receive three separate vaccinations as there is no lifelong cure for the potentially fatal illness.

California is the state with the highest number of vaccinations, however it’s noted that these outbreaks are occurring in areas where parents opt not to vaccinate their children.

It’s important for parents who suspect their children are suffering from whooping cough to seek medical attention immediately. The disease is highly treatable through antibiotics, but neglecting vaccination and medical care can cause unnecessary risks to infected children and non-infected children.

Image via Wikimedia Commons