Whooping cough may be heading for another peak in California

Whooping cough may be heading for another peak in California

California's public health officials have urged people, particularly pregnant women and infants, to get immediately vaccinated against the growing risk of whooping cough or pertussis, which is likely heading for another peak this year.

The California Department of Public Health warned that 3,458 cases of whooping cough had already been reported since January 1, 2014, including nearly 800 in the past couple of weeks. The total is more than all the cases of the disease reported in the entire 2013.

Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the health department, said, "Preventing severe disease and death in infants is our highest priority. We urge all pregnant women to get vaccinated. We also urge parents to vaccinate infants as soon as possible."

Chapman added that pregnant women should get Tdap vaccination in the third trimester of their pregnancy, irrespective of previous vaccination for the disease. Infants can be vaccinated with a Tdap dose as early as six weeks of age. Pre-adolescents and adult people should also get themselves vaccinated against the disease.

Whooping cough or pertussis is a cyclical disease that peaks every three to five years. The disease' last peak in California occurred in the year of 2010, when the health department recorded 9,159 cases. Chapman warned that another peak could occur this year.

A typical case of pertussis starts with symptoms like cough and runny nose. The cough then worsens and the patient may soon start suffering rapid coughing spells with a "whooping" sound.

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