2014 is shaping up to be a bad year for whooping cough in California. There have already been more case this year than were reported in all of 2013.
The California Department of Health says there have already been more than 26 hundred cases of whopping cough this year. More than 800 cases were reported in April alone. That’s the highest monthly total since the state’s 2010 epidemic.
The department’s Dr. Kathleen Harriman says the disease, also known as pertussis, can be fatal for newborns.
“Pregnancy vaccination in the third trimester is really the only tool that we have to protect those very young infants," she says. "So we really want to emphasize to both providers to offer that vaccine and, hopefully, for pregnant woman to accept that vaccine and to ask their providers for it.”
Harriman says the disease peaks every three to five years, so this year’s outbreak is not unusual. 83 percent of this year’s cases have occurred in infants and children under 18.