California is facing what could be the state’s biggest outbreak of pertussis since 1958, according to its top public health official. This contagious disease is more commonly known as whooping cough due the distinctive whoop that occurs when sufferers cough and gasp for breath.
“Whooping cough is now an epidemic in California,” said Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health, in a statement. “Children should be vaccinated against the disease and parents, family members and caregivers of infants need a booster shot.”
As of June 15, a total of 910 cases had been confirmed in the state. Another 600 suspected cases are currently being investigated by local health officials, the statement indicated.
The number of pertussis cases is now on a pace to surpass the total of 3,182 seen in the most recent major outbreak, which occurred in 2005, said Ken August, spokesman for the department.