Whooping Cough Makes California Comeback

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego
    Doctor stresses that team's work is about biology, not chronology

    No, it's not a headline from a century ago. Whooping Cough really is back in the news.

    Thousands of Californians have come down with the illness this year. Public health officials are calling it the worst epidemic since the 1950s. Ten victims have died, all infants. Typically, only three die per year.

    Senior citizens are also particularly vulnerable.

    The Centers for Disease Control recently recommended that anyone over the age of 65 get a Tdap shot, which guards against a variety of infections. Despite a widely-circulated rumor, the shot is safe for senior citizens and is covered under Medicare.

    Some health care practitioners have observed that the illness is more likely to strike amongst communities that reject immunizations, believing them to be hazardous. Although school children are required to be vaccinated, they can be granted exemptions.

    Although very young babies cannot be vaccinated, caregivers can. Officials are urging anyone who comes into contact with infants to get booster shots.

    Symptoms of whooping cough are similar to the common cold, but linger. Along with a runny nose and fever, warning signs include a prolonged cough, followed by a gasping sound.