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Health blog


California is in the midst of an outbreak of whooping cough unlike any in the past half-century. Cases in 2010 increased 500% from 2009. Other states with significant increases in whooping cough include Texas, Ohio, Michigan, and Arizona.

According to the CDC, an estimated 13,000 people get whooping cough (pertussis) each year. The disease is on the rise, especially among infants under six months old who are not yet fully immunized, and among adolescents whose immunity may have waned since childhood. Pertussis is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. Vaccinations prevent whooping cough, but immunity fades over time.

Pertussis is very contagious. Its symptoms are similar to those of a cold at the beginning of the illness. In a week or two, however, severe coughing begins. The coughing is violent, prolonged, and may cause a whooping sound on inhalation. Because pertussis is a bacterial disease, it responds well to antibiotics.

In the past ten years doctors have developed Tdap – a booster vaccine for adults that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Tdap is recommended for adults and pregnant women, and is often given to families and caregivers of newborns. Everyone needs a tetanus booster every ten years. When it’s time for your next tetanus booster, ask your doctor if Tdap is right for you. For more information, check the CDC website at: You can also click on a link to hear the whooping sounds of patients with pertussis.
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