Article titled "Whooping cough cases on the rise" in California dated Sep. 20, 2005 a heartbreaking vaccine preventable diease please educate yourself on it so you dont have to find out like we did. (I am just going to paste the article below because for some reason whenever I posted the link it made you sign up for a free account first even though it didnt make me when I went to it?)
California is seeing a dramatic increase in pertussis, or whooping cough, mirroring a national trend, state health officials announced Monday.
Through August of this year, four infants have died in the state and 1,276 cases have been reported.
During the same period last year, two infants had died and 450 cases were reported.
California has already surpassed last year's pertussis death and illness totals.
"Our concern is when young children get it," said Barbara Navolanic, nursing services director for Solano County. "The important thing is making sure that young children are up-to-date on their vaccines."
Once one of the most common childhood diseases, whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. It is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The disease dropped off sharply in the United States after a vaccine became available in the 1940s. But since the 1980s, it has begun to rise again, although not coming close to previous numbers.
It remains a major health threat for children in developing countries.
At first, the symptoms seem similar to a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and dry cough.
But the disease often progresses into severe coughing spells that may last for a minute or longer and tend to occur at night.
Between coughing fits, children often gasp for air with a high-pitched whooping sound, hence the term whooping cough. Not every infected person will make this sound, however.
The coughing spells can cause a child to turn blue in the face or vomit. The coughing may continue for several weeks, or even months.
One-fourth of infected children will develop pneumonia, making it difficult to breathe. Less often, the disease causes bleeding, swelling or inflammation of the brain, leading to seizures, mental retardation or death.
While people of any age can get pertussis, it is most serious for infants. One third of California cases this year have involved infants younger than 1. Eighty percent of those children needed hospitalization.
The four infants who died were all younger than 2 months old and had not had their first pertussis vaccination, said Celia Woodfill, an epidemiologist for the state immunization branch.
As part of the standard immunization schedule, federal officials recommend children have four doses of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, or DTaP, vaccine at age 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and 12 to 15 months.
But it is possible to get the first dose as early as 6 weeks after birth, notes interim state health officer Dr. Howard Backer.
Immunity from the pertussis vaccination wanes over time. It provides little or no protection five to 10 years later. As a result, many older children and adults have little or no immunity and may spread the disease without realizing it.
"Often times, it's not recognized as pertussis in adults," Navolanic said. "It's not that simple to diagnose."
Mirroring the state trend, Contra Costa County has seen its reported cases jump, from 14 in 2002, 12 in 2003 and 12 in 2004, to 31 cases so far this year. There have been no deaths.
No one knows what drives the increase, but the disease tends to be cyclical, spiking every few years. The rising numbers may also be caused in part by better diagnostic tools and surveillance methods, said Sirlura Taylor, communicable disease program manager for Contra Costa County.
Alameda County saw its large increase a year earlier, with cases more than doubling between 2003 and 2004, rising from 37 to 84. Through June of this year, the county has had 45 cases.
"We've heightened the awareness among providers about the need to report," said Linda Frank, chief of disease surveillance for Alameda County. The disease may have been "grossly under-reported" in previous years, she added.
Solano County had 20 cases at this point last year. So far this year, it has had 17.
Once people are diagnosed, health officials in those three Bay Area counties attempt to identify those who may have come in close contact with the infected person.
A new pertussis vaccine booster shot is now available for teens and adults. It is recommended for children 11 to 18.
Next month, a national advisory committee will discuss whether to encourage some adults to get the booster shot as well.
"In other countries, it's recommended for parents of young infants," Woodfill said.
Sandy Kleffman is a general assignment and health reporter. Reach her at 925-943-8249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW TO PROTECT CHILDREN
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Infants should receive four doses of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, or DTaP, vaccination at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and 12 or 15 months.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Keep newborns away from people with coughs and colds.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Quickly contact a physician if your child has prolonged coughing spells, turns red or blue followed by vomiting, or if coughing occurs with a whooping sound.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Local health departments provide low-cost or free immunizations for children without health insurance.