The number of pertussis cases in California has increased by an additional 760 cases since the last update two weeks ago, bringing the total number to 6,930 in 2014 to date.

Boy with whooping cough/Video Screen Shot

Nearly 200 pertussis patients required hospitalization for their illness, with about one-fifth of those patients in intensive care.

Six out of 10 hospitalizations were in young infants <4 months old.

Both Los Angeles and San Diego counties have reported in excess of 1,000 cases, with 1,303 and 1,140 cases respectively.

Whooping cough is caused by the bacteria, Bordetella pertussis. This vaccine-preventable disease is spread through direct contact with respiratory discharges via the airborne route.

Pertussis goes through a series of stages in the infected person; initially a irritating cough followed by repeated, violent coughing. The disease gets its nickname by coughing without inhaling air giving the characteristic high-pitched whoop. Certain populations may not have the typical whoop like infants and adults.

It is highly communicable, especially in very early stages and the beginning of coughing episodes, for approximately the first 2 weeks. Then the communicability gradually decreases and at 3 weeks it is negligible, though the cough my last for months.

Pertussis is an endemic disease found worldwide. In this country, according to the CDC, outbreaks occur every 3-5 years.

Those that are not immunized are susceptible to this disease. Young infants and school aged children (who are frequently the source of infection for younger siblings) are at greatest risk.

The best way to prevent it is through vaccinations. The childhood vaccine is called DTaP. The whooping cough booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called Tdap. Both DTaP and Tdap protect against whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page