The number of pertussis, or whooping cough cases in California have surpassed the 3,000 case mark this week with health officials reporting 3,150 cases to date.

California pertussisThis number however is significantly down from the same period in 2014 when the tally was above 5,300.

115 cases have been hospitalized; 30 (26%) of these required intensive care. The majority requiring hospitalization were infants.

So far, Los Angeles and San Diego have been the hardest hit with 754 and 565 cases, respectively.

Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a highly contagious bacterial disease that can be spread by coughing. People with pertussis have severe coughing attacks that can last for months. Infants too young for vaccination are at greatest risk for life-threatening cases of pertussis. Over 9,000 cases of pertussis were reported in California during 2010, the most in over 60 years, including 10 infant deaths. Consistent with a peak in incidence every 3-5 years, CDPH has declared a whooping cough epidemic in 2014. Pertussis is widespread throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Make sure that you have been vaccinated against whooping cough.  Booster doses are needed throughout life, because protection against whooping cough after vaccination or disease wanes over time.

  • Pregnant Women are recommended to receive Tdap (whooping cough booster) during their third trimester of each pregnancy, even if they got it before pregnancy. The protection that expectant moms receives from Tdap also passes to their baby in the womb. This helps protect babies during the most vulnerable period, until they are old enough to get their first whooping cough vaccination at 6–8 weeks of age
  • Infants can start the childhood whooping cough vaccine series, DTaP (PDF), as early as 6 weeks of age. Even one dose of DTaP may offer some protection against fatal whooping cough disease in infants. Young children need five doses of DTaP by kindergarten (ages 4-6)
  • Students in 7th grade in California need to have met the requirement for a Tdap (PDF) booster.
  • Adults are also recommended to receive a Tdap booster, especially if they are in contact with infants or are health care workers, but most adults have not yet received Tdap.