HEALTH ALERT—Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Epidemic in California
In June 2010, the California Department of Public Health declared pertussis, also known as “whooping cough,” to be an epidemic in California.
Because whooping cough is very contagious, it can be dangerous for children and infants who are unimmunized or partially immunized. It is important that community members check with their medical providers and get current information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones.
The City of Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) wants to ensure the health of our community during this epidemic. We encourage children get vaccinated against the disease. Parents, family members and caregivers of infants also need to get a booster shot.
Booster shots and childhood vaccines are available at the Public Health Department Immunization Clinic and through local healthcare providers.
California Department of Public Health Press Release (July 19, 2010)
CDPH BROADENS RECOMMENDATIONS FOR VACCINATING AGAINST PERTUSSIS:
IMMUNIZATION KEY TO CONTROLLING WHOOPING COUGH
SACRAMENTO – To protect Californians against the current epidemic levels of pertussis (whooping cough) health experts at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today broadened recommendations for immunizing against pertussis and reiterated the importance of getting vaccinated. -
“We are facing what could be the worst year for pertussis that this state has seen in more than 50 years,” said CDPH Chief of the Center for Infectious Disease Dr. Gilberto Chávez, who also is the state’s epidemiologist. “We are urging health providers to broaden their use of the pertussis vaccine and we are urging Californians to take the simple step of getting vaccinated to prevent pertussis.”
In addition to the typical series of childhood pertussis immunizations, CDPH now recommends an adolescent-adult pertussis booster vaccine (Tdap) for:
• anyone 7 years and older who is not fully immunized, including those who are more than 64 years old,
• women of childbearing age, before, during, or immediately after pregnancy, and
• other people who have contact with pregnant women or infants.
“Considering that immunity from pertussis vaccine or disease wears off and that most adults are susceptible to pertussis, now is the time for Californians to get immunized to protect themselves and their families,” said Chávez. “In particular, all family members and caregivers of infants should get the booster vaccine.”
California physicians expressed support for the new expanded vaccination guidelines. “Pediatricians are extremely concerned about the pertussis epidemic in California,” said Kris Calvin, Chief Executive Officer of the American Academy of Pediatrics, California. “We appreciate and fully support CDPH’s efforts.” Family physicians are equally concerned. “The new recommendations will help tremendously in addressing pertussis prevention,” said Jack Chou, M.D., president of the California Academy of Family Physicians. “We support the efforts of the California Department of Public Health.”
Pertussis has reached an epidemic level in California. Through July 13 of this year, 1,496 cases of pertussis were reported, a five-fold increase from the same period last year when 304 cases were reported.
Five infants, all under three months of age, have died from pertussis this year. Unimmunized or incompletely immunized young infants are particularly vulnerable.
The pertussis vaccination series can begin when an infant is 6 weeks of age. Infants, however, are not adequately protected by vaccination until the initial series of three shots is complete. The series of shots that most children receive wears off by the time they finish middle school. Neither vaccination nor illness from pertussis provides lifetime immunity. For new mothers and anyone with close contact with infants, CDPH is providing Tdap vaccine at birthing hospitals, community health centers, Native American health centers and local health departments.
A typical case of pertussis in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose for one-to-two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes ends with a whooping sound. Fever is rare.
California has taken the following steps to combat pertussis:
• Confirmed pertussis to be at epidemic levels in California, in line to break a 50 year record for recorded cases.
• Implementation of a free postpartum tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) program for hospitals with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
• Promoted the infant “cocooning strategy,” wherein individuals in close contact with infants are vaccinated.
• The development of bilingual educational materials for distribution to local public health departments, hospitals, and healthcare providers; news releases to inform the public, and conducting statewide round-table meetings with ethnic media.
• Development of clinical guidance materials to 14,000 healthcare providers as well as the California Medical Association and the California Hospital Association.
• Partnering with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a pertussis investigation in the Central Valley region.
Complete information about the Department’s response is available at www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/immunize/Pages/TdapExpansionProgram.aspx
Other Public Health Resources
California Department of Public Health Press Release (June 23, 2010)
WHOOPING COUGH EPIDEMIC MAY BE WORST IN 50 YEARS
Sacramento – Urging Californians to get vaccinated now, Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), warned today that the state is on pace to suffer the most illnesses and deaths due to pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in 50 years.
“Whooping cough is now an epidemic in California,” Horton said. “Children should be vaccinated against the disease and parents, family members and caregivers of infants need a booster shot.”
As of June 15, California had recorded 910 cases of pertussis, a four-fold increase from the same period last year when 219 cases were recorded. Five infants — all under three months of age — have died from the disease this year. In addition, 600 more possible cases of pertussis are being investigated by local health departments.
Pertussis is cyclical. Cases tend to peak every two to five years. In 2005, California recorded 3,182 cases and seven deaths.
Pertussis is a highly contagious disease. Unimmunized or incompletely immunized young infants are particularly vulnerable. Since 1998, more than 80 percent of the infants in California who have died from pertussis have been Hispanic.
The pertussis vaccine is safe for children and adults. Pertussis vaccination begins at two months of age, but young infants are not adequately protected until the initial series of three shots is complete at 6 months of age. The series of shots that most children receive wears off by the time they finish middle school. Neither vaccination nor illness from pertussis provides lifetime immunity.
Pregnant women may be vaccinated against pertussis before pregnancy, during pregnancy or after giving birth. Fathers may be vaccinated at any time, but preferably before the birth of their baby. CDPH encourages birthing hospitals to implement policies to vaccinate new mothers and fathers before sending newborns home. CDPH is providing vaccine free of charge to hospitals.
Others who may have contact with infants, including family members, healthcare workers, and childcare workers, should also be vaccinated. Individuals should contact their regular health care provider or local health department to inquire about pertussis vaccination.
A typical case of pertussis in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose for one-to-two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever is rare.