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Whooping cough cases top 6,000 in California

October 26, 2010 |  6:53 pm

More than 6,000 Californians have been infected with whooping cough, according to updated totals released by the Department of Public Health.

As of late Tuesday there were 6,257 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, in California, an increase of 279 cases from the previous week. The epidemic is the largest to strike California since 1950, when 6,613 cases were reported.

Put another way, there are 16 cases of pertussis for every 100,000 people in California, the highest incidence since 1959, when there was a rate of 16.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Of the 10 who have died from pertussis so far this year, all were infants younger than three months, and nine of them were Latino. Health officials have previously said that Latino babies are overrepresented in part because they are more likely to live in larger households, with more opportunities to be exposed to someone with whooping cough.

Newborn babies are at highest risk of dying from whooping cough, and are usually infected by a coughing family member. Health officials say the only way to protect newborns is to give pertussis vaccinations to everyone who will have contact with the baby, creating a cocoon around those too young to be immunized. Anyone who is coughing should avoid contact with newborns.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Related:

Some elderly patients can’t get whooping cough vaccine

Whooping cough Q&A

Whooping cough immunization information

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