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Calif. Whooping Cough Cases Increased in 2013, State Data Show

The number of whooping cough -- or pertussis -- cases in California increased sharply from 2012 to 2013, according to a report by the California Department of Public Health, the AP/Orange County Register reports.

Details of Report

According to the report, the number of whooping cough cases in the state increased from 1,023 in 2012 to 1,904 last year.

The report found that the number of cases increased to:

  • 93 in Orange County, up from 74 in 2012 (AP/Orange County Register, 1/20);
  • 79 in Placer County, up from 11 cases in 2012 (Craft, Sacramento Bee, 1/19);
  • 70 in Nevada County, up from five in 2012;
  • 70 in Riverside County, up from 46 in 2012 (AP/Orange County Register, 1/20);
  • 65 in Sacramento County, up from about 32 in 2012 (Sacramento Bee, 1/19); and
  • 12 in Long Beach, up from four in 2012.

In addition, the report found that 82% of whooping cough cases last year appeared in children younger than age 18 (AP/Orange County Register, 1/20).

While there were 99 hospitalizations associated with whooping cough, there were no reported deaths from the disease.

Reasons for Increase

State health officials said several factors could have contributed to the uptick in diagnoses, including:

  • Children not receiving their whooping cough booster vaccine at ages 11 or 12;
  • Parents choosing not to vaccinate their children; and
  • The disease's cyclical nature (AP/U-T San Diego, 1/19).  

Despite the increase from 2012, the number of whooping cough cases is far from the epidemic levels reported in 2009 and 2010, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Reaction

Ken Cutler, health director for Nevada County, said that unvaccinated residents are more likely to experience more severe symptoms. He also noted that outbreaks are more likely in counties with large "clusters" of unvaccinated individuals (Sacramento Bee, 1/19).

DPH noted that 2013 data still are preliminary and that the state will not have final numbers until spring (AP/Orange County Register, 1/20).

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