Whooping Cough Cases in Orange County, Other Parts of Southern California on the Rise
The number of whooping cough cases in Orange County is "up sharply" this year, with 96 cases through Nov. 29, compared to 15 cases in the same period last year, the Los Angeles Times reports. The number of cases this year is the highest since 1958, when health officials reported 133 cases. The Times reports that the trend is occurring throughout Southern California but is less remarkable than the number of cases seen in Orange County. In Los Angeles County, for example, the number of cases is up 20% this year, with 120 cases and two deaths reported. Nationally, the number of cases has increased; reports of whooping cough to the CDC have increased sevenfold over the past 25 years, the Times reports (Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times, 12/12). Whooping cough occurs in cycles, usually peaking for two to three years, then falling and rising again in the same time span (Talanian/Saar, Orange County Register, 12/13). However, the cause of the recent increase, which mostly has impacted unvaccinated children, is unknown. "No one really knows the answer why there's this long-term trend of gradual increase, even though immunization coverage has gotten higher," Dr. Loring Dales, medical officer in the Immunization Branch of the California Department of Health Services, said (Los Angeles Times, 12/13). Efficacy of the whooping cough vaccine begins to wane around age 7, but the disease's symptoms typically are mild in older age groups. As a result, health officials say many cases go undetected until children become infected. There is no booster for the vaccine, but studies currently are underway, and boosters recently have been approved in Canada and Europe. "We need a technical fix. We're not getting at the problem and it's not going to go away," Dales added (Orange County Register, 12/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.