Whooping cough epidemic hits California
State and local health officials are calling the recent rise in cases of whooping cough an epidemic, and encouraging people to get vaccinations and booster shots.
Reported cases of pertussis, commonly known as “whooping cough,” have more than quadrupled in California since last year. And, according to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, people need to be especially aware of the risks the bacterial disease poses to infants.
“Our advice is to make sure children are up to date on their vaccines,” said Joy Alexiou, a county health spokeswoman. “If you care for a child under the age of 1, you should get a vaccine, as well.”
According to Alexiou, 33 cases have been reported countywide, including three in Mountain View. That is up from 25 last year. By the end of the year, she said the county is likely to at least double last year’s reported incidents. There have been 910 reported cases of whooping cough statewide, up from 219 from this time last year.
“That’s an epidemic of a disease,” Alexiou said, explaining that the term “epidemic” is used anytime an unusually high number of cases of a disease are reported. She added that surges of whooping cough infections are somewhat cyclical and occur once every several years.
Whooping cough gets its name from the sound associated with the severe cough it causes, as infected individuals may make a whooping sound as they gasp for breath in the midst of severe coughing spells.