Post 120 – Whooping Cough an Epidemic in California

Saw an article in the Orange County Register saying the State of California has declared whooping cough, known as pertussis, an epidemic from Wikipediain the state.

The article states, “As of last week, 3,458 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, have been reported to the state Department of Public Health in 2014, more than the total for last year. In the last two weeks, more than 800 cases have been reported.

“In Orange County, Health Care Agency spokeswoman Nicole Stanfield said there have been 98 cases, including 22 infants.

“The state said pertussis is cyclical and peaks every three to five years. The most recent peak was in 2010 when 10 babies died in the worst outbreak in 50 years. This year, two infant deaths have been reported.

“For children, a typical case of pertussis starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, according to the state’s description of symptoms. The cough then worsens and children may have rapid coughing spells that end with a “whooping” sound. Young infants may not have typical pertussis symptoms and may have no apparent cough. Parents may describe episodes in which the infant’s face turns red or purple. For adults, pertussis may simply be a cough that persists for several weeks.

“The recent outbreaks have been attributed to a change in the vaccine.

“Research after the 2010 pertussis outbreak found that the vaccine offers less protection after changes were made in the 1990s to reduce side effects. The original vaccine, developed in the 1940s, could cause fever as well as pain, redness and swelling at the injection site and, on rare occasions, seizures.

So what is Pertussis?

It’s a highly contagious illness caused by a bacteria, Bordetella pertussis. The vaccine is the primary prevention method. Usually it’s younger kids and elderly who tend to get this. 

First stage of the illness is very much like the common cold: runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever. This lasts for about 3 weeks. Treatment is an antibiotic, usually erythromycin or azithromycin.

The Orange County Health Care Agency says 90% of deaths occur in infants under 6 months of age. They recommend a treatment of 5 doses of DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, acellular Pertussis) vaccine, with one dose at each of the following ages: 2, 4, 6, and 15 through 18 months and 4 through 6 years. 

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