Whooping Cough Cases on Rise in California, Georgia, Canada

Friday, 11 Apr 2014 11:21 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Health officials are investigating cases of the whooping cough, which has been diagnosed in clusters over the past month in southern California, southwestern Georgia and southern Alberta, Canada. In southern California, the rate for 2014 has outpaced the rate for all of 2013.

Many young children in the U.S. who are not fully vaccinated have received the diagnosis, officials say.

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Nearly 200 people have been diagnosed with pertussis, informally known as the whooping cough, in San Diego County since the beginning of 2014. The rate far outpaces the 430 people diagnosed in all of 2013 in the county, the county's health and human service agency told KPBS on Wednesday. By this time last year, only 39 cases had been reported.

"A greater number of children are getting sick with pertussis this year," Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer, said. "Parents or guardians should make sure their children have received all the recommended doses of the pertussis vaccine."

Officials from the Southwest Georgia Public Health District told WCTV this week that they were looking into outbreaks in Colquitt, Mitchell and Thomas counties. 

"More than half of infants younger than 12 months old who get pertussis require hospitalization," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, Southwest Georgia Public Health District's director. "Since 2013, there have been seven cases of infants with pertussis in our district. Four of those were hospitalized, and three — all under 2 months old — required intensive care outside of the area."

On Tuesday, the Alberta Health Services confirmed 34 cases of the whooping cough in the southern province so far this year. Dr. Vivien Suttorp told the Canadian Press that the whooping cough has affected people of all ages in the region. 

Suttorp added that there was a whooping cough outbreak in southern Alberta in 2009 and 2012.

Symptoms of the whooping cough start with a cough and runny nose for up to two weeks and are followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of whooping cough cases has been increasing annually since the 1980s.

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