Pertussis incidence remains significant in California in 2015 to date as health officials report 3,404 cases this year so far. This number is high, so high that health data shows that this is the highest number of cases reported in the Golden State since the 1950s, with the exception of the 2010 epidemic when 9,159 cases were recorded and last year when the California epidemic saw 11,203 cases.

Public domain image/National Atlas of the United States
Public domain image/National Atlas of the United States

The Los Angeles and San Diego health jurisdictions have reported the most cases with 826 and 600, respectively.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today urged expecting mothers to receive a the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). Pertussis, or whooping cough has already caused one infant death and at least 126 infant hospitalizations in California this year.

Prenatal vaccination will help protect newborn children until they are old enough to receive their own vaccination against pertussis. Because immunity decreases over time, women should receive the pertussis vaccine in the last trimester of each pregnancy.

CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith said today, “Vaccinated mothers pass protective antibodies to their infants during pregnancy,” said Dr. Smith. “Right now, it’s estimated that fewer than half of all pregnant women in California are vaccinated against whooping cough. We need to increase that number to help improve the health of our children and of our communities.”

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.

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