***Don’t catch whooping cough from others. Don’t go to crowded places.***

LA County officials advise public of whooping cough epidemic | 89.3 KPCC

As kids get their back-to-school vaccinations, it’s a good idea for older siblings, parents and grandparents to get booster shots for whooping cough.

The number of deaths related to Pertussis, or whooping cough, is at a 15-year high in Los Angeles County. L.A. County public health officials report four infant deaths so far this year.

The county’s chief health officer, Dr. Jonathan Fielding, says young children most commonly catch whooping cough from older siblings, parents and grandparents.

“You get it from people coughing in your presence. It’s a bacteria. When you cough, you get a lot of those bacteria, if they’re in your system, out into the environment,” Fielding says.

He says infants are especially vulnerable, because their immune systems aren’t strong enough to fight off such a strong respiratory infection.

In June, state public health officials declared a statewide epidemic. They’re advising pediatricians to treat for whooping cough first whenever babies go to them with a nagging cough or trouble breathing.

Whooping cough data from state show babies hardest hit, epidemic worst since 1955 [Updated] | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times

Babies have been hardest hit by whooping cough in California, according to new statistics released by the state Department of Public Health.

All nine deaths so far this year have been among infants under 3 months old. Among patients who are critically ill with the disease, babies have also been disproportionately hospitalized.

According to the data released late Wednesday, of 196 patients known to have been hospitalized with whooping cough in California, 74% were infants under 6 months old and most — 57% — were under 3 months old.

Whooping cough is often spread to babies by parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents and other adults. Because infants do not begin vaccinations until they are 2 months old, health officials for

months have been pleading for anyone who expects to be in contact with babies — especially pregnant women — to get vaccinated.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t fully immunized,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “People with respiratory conditions and cold-like conditions should not have contact with small infants.”

Whooping cough is spreading among adults too, but many of those cases aren’t reflected in the state’s numbers because the disease is often not diagnosed in adults.

Cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, continue to tick upward in California. State data as of Tuesday show that California has had the most cases of whooping cough since 1955, with 4,017 confirmed, probable and suspect cases reported so far this year.

The latest figure surpasses the number of cases reported in 1958 in California, when 3,837 people were sickened with the severe bacterial disease. This year marks the highest number of whooping cough cases in California since widespread vaccination efforts began in the 1940s and ’50s.

Whooping cough claims 9 lives in California | The Money Times

Whooping cough infections may break the 55-year-old record in California, with nine infants already having succumbed to the disease.

Los Angeles State health officials have announced that California is on its way to break the 55-year-old record in whooping cough infections.

Till now, 4,017 cases of this extremely infectious disease have been reported in California. National data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows 11,466 cases reported throughout the country.

The number of infected patients is rising, and health authorities are requiring everybody to have booster shots.

The epidemic has already claimed the lives of nine infants. All these babies were too young to be fully immunized against the illness.

In South Carolina, officials reported one whooping cough death and 255 confirmed or suspected cases.

Parents, caregivers urged to get shots
Typically, babies are given a series of vaccinations, and then they receive booster shots between ages four and six, and again after age 10.

This year, health officials are asking everyone over six months of age to get a flu vaccine, expanding previous guidelines that targeted only vulnerable populations.

Myths regarding the vaccination
parents miss vaccines for their children because of apprehensions about autism, which are fueled by misinformation. The vaccines against whooping cough are free of the additive thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury that is being debated as a possible cause of autism.

It has been found that 127 out of the 7,174 schools in California reported 50 percent or lesser rate of immunization against whooping cough among kindergarten students in 2009.

Q & A on whooping cough | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times


Q & A on whooping cough

September 13, 2010 | 8:15 am

Readers have contacted The Times wanting to know more about the immunization status of the young victims in the state’s worst whooping cough outbreak in 52 years. Already this year, pertussis has killed eight people, all infants younger than 3 months of age.

As The Times continues to cover the outbreak, readers are encouraged to send their questions to ron.lin@latimes.com.

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