30 July 2010

Vaccine Urged as Whooping Cough Epidemic Grows

Fresno Bee

State health officials today urged more Californians to get vaccinated for whooping cough, as the disease grew to epidemic proportions.

To date, about 1,500 people in California have become infected with pertussis -- a five-fold increase from the same time last year. Five infants, all under 3 months old, have died from the disease, and one additional case is under investigation by the California Department of Public Health.

"We are facing what could be the worst year for pertussis that this state has seen in more than 50 years," said Dr. Gilberto Chavez, the agency's chief of the state's Center for Infectious Diseases.

Health officials are recommending more people get vaccinated, including anyone 7 years and older. In particular, women of childbearing age -- before a planned pregnancy, during gestation or immediately after childbirth -- should get immunized.

Those over 64, especially grandparents caring for infants, should also get the vaccine -- as should other people who have contact with infants or pregnant women.

While adults usually recover quickly from whooping cough, infants, because of their delicate airways, have more difficulty surviving an infection.

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