Whooping cough epidemic declared in California

24 Jun

The largest whooping cough numbers in 50 years (over 900 confirmed cases throughout the state of California) has resulted in five deaths of Latino children under five years old. Public health officials declared an epidemic today as a result.

The announcement came after authorities noticed a sharp spike in reports of pertussis, the scientific name for whooping cough, which often is mistaken for a cold or the flu and is highly contagious. All told, 910 cases have been confirmed, with several hundred more under investigation. If the pace keeps up, the outbreak could be the largest in the state in 50 years, the California Department of Public Health reported.

Dr. Gilberto Chavez, the deputy director of the department’s Center for Infectious Disease, said health officials had seen a fourfold increase compared with 2009. And the worst may be to come.

“The peak season starts in the summer,” Dr. Chavez said, noting that July and August usually have the highest number of cases. “And we expect to see a much larger number of cases if we don’t intervene quickly.”

For five families, however, the state’s warning has come too late. Five children — all Latino and all under the age of 3 months — have died since the beginning of the year, Dr. Chavez said.


Vaccinate your kids. Please.

7 Responses to “Whooping cough epidemic declared in California”

  1. David N. Brown June 24, 2010 at 09:08 #

    So, the pattern is: Rich white people refuse to vaccinate, and poor minority children die.
    I suggest that those who apply for non-medical vaccine exemptions be made to pay for that privilege, in proportion to the cost of an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease. I’ve heard of a measles outbreak that cost $180 K, compared to $18 to get a vaccine from the CDC. So, 10,000 times the price of the vaccine they wish to skip should be about right.

  2. Rosel June 24, 2010 at 14:12 #

    I think it is appalling that enough people refuse to vaccinate because of fear of autism, but these particular deaths are probably related to the epidemic of xenophobia and anti-immigrant racism, rather than being indirect effects of the autism anti vax movement.

  3. stanley seigler June 25, 2010 at 19:14 #

    [brown say] So, the pattern is: Rich white people refuse to vaccinate, and poor minority children die.

    our christian society strikes again…

    stanley seigler

    FYI another report
    WHOOPING COUGH EPIDEMIC MAY BE WORST IN 50 YEARS Date: 6/23/2010 Number: 10-041 Contact: Al Lundeen (916) 440-7259

    SACRAMENTO Urging Californians to get vaccinated now, Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), warned today that the state is on pace to suffer the most illnesses and deaths due to pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in 50 years.

    Whooping cough is now an epidemic in California, Horton said. Children should be vaccinated against the disease and parents, family members and caregivers of infants need a booster shot.

    As of June 15, California had recorded 910 cases of pertussis, a four-fold increase from the same period last year when 219 cases were recorded. Five infants” all under three months of age” have died from the disease this year. In addition, 600 more possible cases of pertussis are being investigated by local health departments.

    Pertussis is cyclical. Cases tend to peak every two to five years. In 2005, California recorded 3,182 cases andeight deaths.

    Pertussis is a highly contagious disease. Unimmunized or incompletely immunized young infants are particularly vulnerable. Since 1998, more than 80 percent of the infants in California who have died from pertussis have been Hispanic.

    The pertussis vaccine is safe for children and adults. Pertussis vaccination begins at two months of age, but young infants are not adequately protected until the initial series of three shots is complete at 6 months of age. The series of shots that most children receive wears off by the time they finish middle school. Neither vaccination nor illness from pertussis provides lifetime immunity.

    Pregnant women may be vaccinated against pertussis before pregnancy, during pregnancy or after giving birth. Fathers may be vaccinated at any time, but preferably before the birth of their baby. CDPH encourages birthing hospitals to implement policies to vaccinate new mothers and fathers before sending newborns home. CDPH is providing vaccine free of charge to hospitals.

    Others who may have contact with infants, including family members, healthcare workers, and childcare workers, should also be vaccinated. Individuals should contact their regular health care provider or local health department to inquire about pertussis vaccination.

    A typical case of pertussis in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose for one-to-two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever is rare.

  4. stanley seigler June 28, 2010 at 21:26 #

    FYI Update

    stanley seigler

    Vaccines for Whooping Cough Too Costly To Provide, Physicians Say

    Vaccines to prevent pertussis, or whooping cough, often are too expensive for physicians to provide, the AP/Ventura County Star reports.

    Last week, California health officials declared a whooping cough epidemic in the state, after confirming 910 cases of whooping cough and five infant deaths resulting from the highly contagious respiratory disease.

    California Academy of Family Physicians spokesperson Tom Reilly said that even when insurers cover the vaccines, the cost of storing and administering them is prohibitive. He said that administering one round of vaccines to a child can cost a physician office $450.

    Vaccine administration costs are a problem only for insured patients because uninsured children can receive vaccines through the federal Vaccines for Children Program or Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, the AP/Star reports.

    In addition, the California Department of Public Health provides county health departments and hospital systems with doses of the vaccines at no cost, according to department spokesperson Ken August.

    Proposed Bill

    California Academy of Family Physicians has proposed a bill (AB 2093) that would require insurers to cover the administration costs for vaccines.

    The lobbying group California Association of Health Plans opposes the legislation, arguing that it goes too far.

    The bill is scheduled for consideration by the Senate Health Committee next week (Mohajer, AP/Venture County Star, 6/25).

    Vaccines for Seniors?

    The whooping cough epidemic is raising new questions about whether seniors should receive the vaccine.

    According to whooping cough vaccine guidelines, seniors are too old to receive the vaccination. However, many physicians say that people who are in close contact with infants should be vaccinated against whooping cough regardless of their age.

    Some doctors are using the vaccine “off-license” for people outside its federally regulated age limits (Dahlberg, Sacramento Bee, 6/27).

  5. Kim Casey October 20, 2010 at 18:48 #

    I have one daughter who was required to get the vaccine for school but my other daughter in a charter school didn’t.

    I found some good information on Whooping Cough in Colorado on this article. http://medicalvoyce.com/articles/2010/10/whooping-cough-rise

    It comes from the Academy of Family Physicians so they are trying to get people to vaccinate.


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