California declares whooping cough epidemic
June 24, 2010
LOS ANGELES — Whooping cough is now at epidemic levels in California and the state could record the highest number of illnesses and deaths due to the disease in 50 years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Reported cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, have quadrupled over the same time period last year," said Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health.
Five infants — all under 3 months — have died, including two in Los Angeles County and one in San Bernardino County, the article stated.
There have been 910 confirmed cases of the highly contagious disease in California between Jan. 1 and June 15: During the same time last year, 219 cases were confirmed, the article noted.
Newborns are most likely to be infected by their siblings and parents, the article added.
According to the article, pertussis can make young infants gravely ill very quickly, and health officials recommend that even those with early symptoms be treated with antibiotics and consider hospitalization in a facility with access to an intensive care unit.
In May, state health officials warned that physicians often don''t make a prompt diagnosis of whooping cough in infants because newborns can have deceivingly mild symptoms at first — such as a runny nose with an undetectable or mild cough, the article concluded.
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