California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Nearly 5,400 Whooping Cough Cases Reported in California

Pertussis, or whooping cough, has reached epidemic levels in California, with about 5,400 cases of the illness reported in the state as of July 8,  according to the California Department of Public Health, the Los Angeles Examiner reports (Andress, Los Angeles Examiner, 7/21).

Background

The number of whooping cough cases in California is up nearly 1,000 from the 4,558 diagnoses reported in the state as of late June.

Gil Chavez, an epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health, cited three potential reasons for the uptick in whooping cough cases in the state:

  • Epidemics of the disease are cyclical and occur every three to five years;
  • The whooping cough vaccine's effectiveness wanes over time; and
  • Individuals do not become immune to the disease after contracting it (California Healthline, 6/30).

Details of Outbreak

The rate of whooping cough in the state is about 14 cases per 100,000 residents. Ninety percent of cases occurred in individuals under age 18, with 71% of pediatric cases occurring in children ages seven to 16.

Of the cases so far this year, 156 required hospitalization, including 97 for patients who were younger than four months old.

The highest rates of whooping cough cases have been reported in Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties (DPH report, 7/8).

However, Yolo County may be "getting hit hardest," according to the Examiner. There have been 80 cases reported in Yolo County this year, compared with four cases in 2013 -- a 2,000% increase (Los Angeles Examiner, 7/21).

Efforts To Increase Vaccinations

Some counties are making efforts to ensure residents are vaccinated against the disease.

For example, the Los Angeles Unified School District is hosting a number of clinics at various schools in the district ahead of the start of the school year to ensure students receive the required vaccination (Hayden, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 7/21).

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