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Whooping cough cases remain high across state, county

Whooping cough cases remain high across state, county

A new California law, that is slated to go into effect July 1, requires documentation of an adolescent pertussis booster shot prior to school entry.


POSTED June 14, 2011 6:46 p.m.

While not yet at the record levels seen in 2010, the number of pertussis (whooping cough) cases in the state — and Stanislaus County — continue to be above both the 2009 baseline levels and the numbers seen by this time last year.

“In 2010, California experienced a record high number of pertussis illnesses, including 10 infant deaths,” said Dr. Howard Backer, the interim director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). “While it is too early to know if this year will reach the same high levels of this debilitating disease, California is currently experiencing more cases than would be typically expected, but fortunately no fatalities.”

The number of whooping cough cases in Stanislaus County has risen over the past four years. There were a total of 153 cases of whooping cough in the county in 2010, 17 in 2009, six in 2008 and eight in 2007. As of this week, 50 cases of whooping cough have been reported in 2011.

“For the first five and half months of 2011, we already have more cases than all of the three years, 2007, 2008 and 2009,” said Dr. John Walker, public health officer of Stanislaus County. “The height of the epidemic is over, but the epidemic has not totally subsided.”

Backer called on parents of children in grades seven through 12, to ensure that they comply with AB 354, a new California law that is slated to go into effect July 1 which requires documentation of an adolescent pertussis booster shot prior to school entry. More than one million students statewide still remain to be vaccinated before the fall semester.

“Vaccination, including critical booster shots, is the best defense against pertussis,” added Backer. “Parents of 7th to 12th graders must ensure that their children receive the necessary booster shot to avoid a delay in having their children start classes in the fall semester.”

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that attacks the respiratory system. The disease is characterized by severe coughing spasms and last for several weeks, or months. It’s spread from person to person through coughing and/or sneezing. It’s a highly contagious disease that infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to if they haven’t been immunized, the Centers for Disease Control reported.

The vaccination series for pertussis can begin at the age of 6 weeks. Infants, however, are not adequately protected by vaccination until the initial series of three shots is complete. For new mothers and anyone in close contact with infants, CDPH encourages a “cocooning strategy,” where individuals in close contact are vaccinated to protect the not-fully-immunized infant. Anyone who might be coming into contact with newborns and young infants should ensure that their immunizations are up-to-date.

For information about receiving the pertussis vaccine call 558-7700 or 559-7400.

More information on pertussis and the numbers of reported cases is available at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Pertussis.aspx.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

 

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