In less than five months into 2014, Sacramento County health officials are reporting an outbreak of pertussis, or whooping cough, with the number of cases to date being higher than the total cases recorded during the entirety of 2013.

Photo credit: CDC/ Amanda Mills
Photo credit: CDC/ Amanda Mills

Health officials say they have seen 69 confirmed case this year. In 2013, about 59 cases were reported for the entire calendar year. Eleven of the 69 are young children and many are teenagers, the health department said.

Sacramento County Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye is urging 
residents to get pertussis vaccinations, with the exception of babies under six months old.

Infants and children are more at risk of dying of whooping cough than any other age group. That’s why it’s especially important for people who work with babies and children, such as day care providers, to get vaccinated.

Whooping cough is caused by the bacterium, Bordetella pertussis. This vaccine-preventable disease is spread through direct contact with respiratory discharges via the airborne route. Visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

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.

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

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