June 24th, 2010
11:21 AM ET

Whooping cough is epidemic in California

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

The highly contagious disease whooping cough has reached an epidemic level in California, state officials say, according to CNN affiliate KTLA.

There have been 910 recorded cases of whooping cough in the state as of June 15. Five babies have died from the disease this year.

Most children receive five doses of a vaccine against whooping cough before kindergarten, but that immunization doesn't last a lifetime.

California has seen three times its usual number of whooping cough cases this year, a state health department spokesman told CNN recently.

Read the full story from KTLA

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soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. Jerry

    Unchecked immigration?

    June 24, 2010 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. AshannaK

    I can't begin to tell you how many times I got a shot in school for some disease or another. I hope parents will havae the common sense to have their children immunized. It may save their lives.l

    June 24, 2010 at 11:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Kathy-Glendale, AZ

    They can probably thank their huge population of illegals for it.

    June 24, 2010 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kristen

      what a nasty, racist sentiment, Kathy... you must be a rather unpleasant person. However, if you're going to go there, perhaps I should suggest that we have our selfish "we refuse to provide any services for non-citizens" mentality to thank for it as well. If we just gave all people basic health care, our residents– legal and illegal - would be vaccinated.

      June 25, 2010 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • Dottie


      June 25, 2010 at 23:54 | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Logic

      Those same illegal aliens are also responsible for world hunger, the Middle East conflict and the BP oil spill in the Gulf...

      June 27, 2010 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • Rex Remes

      To Kristen ... what is racist about Kathy's statement? Kathy just said that the outbreak of this once eradicated disease is due to the large amount of illegals in California. Kathy never mentioned race or color. Do you think all illegal immigrants are of the same race?

      It sounds like YOU are the racist because illegal immigrants could come from any country and be of any color. And what most Americans want is for immigrants to use the formal/legal process to enter the country — which includes verifying that the newcomer has the proper vaccinations. Can you understand that logic?

      June 28, 2010 at 00:42 | Report abuse |
    • Yolanda

      I so agree with you!! and kristens out of her mind feeling sorry for all the non american citizens...when they get more public assitance than anyone ...hell almost all have food stamp cards and drive a new cars...ask an american citizen what theyre driving and see if they have food in their fridge? now we got their sickness and our children are getting sick...wow i guess we all should feel sorry for them..NOT!

      January 9, 2011 at 09:55 | Report abuse |
  4. Hical

    and California has a very high number of parents that have fallen into the misconception that all vaccines are bad.... and so have chosen not to have their children immunized ... putting their children at risk and increasing the risk for all others around them especially those with immune system issues (eg: chemotherapy patients, those on steroids for inflammatory diseases, the elderly, those that haven't been vaccinated for many years, the homeless, etc).

    June 24, 2010 at 11:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. mathtiff

    My daughter (age 8 )was diagnosed with Whooping Cough in May of this year. She was in the second sage. Her doctor thought it was asthma related issues. I'm so glad we finally had a handle on it.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Felicia

    I think this disease is something that is being taken way to lightly and deserves more attention than it is getting in mainstream media. As a mother who lost a child to pertussis, it saddens me that it was something we could have prevented if we would have only known it existed anymore.

    Carter died at 7 weeks old after 9 days in the hospital. The doctors did all they could to save him but it just wasn't enough. We were robbed of a beautiful live that could have been saved with a single vaccination.

    South Carolina

    Carter's Story


    June 24, 2010 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. karl

    It has been predicted that we would start seeing this type of thing: namely, preventable childhood diseases suddenly popping up as epidemics. The reason is simple: so many parents nowadays are not having their children vaccinated. This is most often in response to the scare sories about the link between vaccinations and autism, which have now been thoroughly debunked. Another cause is younger parents that have never seen or had to even think about these diseases deciding not to vaccinate their kids. Well, surprise surprise! Now they're making a comeback.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. bobby

    The swine flu was nothing. This is a real killer. I had it when I was 3 and I know how powerful it is. Parents, start working on your child's immune system now.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. CatM

    It's because the kids aren't getting their vaccinations. Even after the vaccination/autism study has been discredited, some people still think Jenny McCarthy has more medical knowledge than the entire AMA. This is what they get for their faith: avoidably sick children. It's just too bad for the kids.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. chris

    How about telling people the symptoms, instead of just making people worry.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Sarah

    I think we are having one in South Carolina as well. Just starting to make the airwaves – my baby had it and it took weeks to get a diagnosis – luckily she was over a year

    June 24, 2010 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Dea

    I had whooping cough at age 34, I was in pain for four months. It's a horrible disease and people need to keep their vaccines up to date, and get boosters when they get their tetanus shots. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, much less an innocent baby.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Opa

    I have some questions for the journalist. Are some families not getting their children vaccinated for this illness because of money issues or the belief that vaccinations are dangerous or unnecessary? Are babies getting this before they're old enough to be vaccinated? Is the increase of whooping cough due to the illegal immigrants who are bringing the disease into our country? What are the ages of the people who are contracting this disease? Are older children at risk? Is there any connection between poverty and overcrowded circumstances versus more affluent neighborhoods in contracting whooping cough?

    June 24, 2010 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Bill

    Too all you idiots out there that don't get your kids vaccinated

    You just killed 5 babies.


    So, when you don't get your retard vaccinated, you kill my kids.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Bill

    Message to all that don't vaccinate your kids:

    See who has died from whooping cough? Was it unvaccinated 10 year olds? No. It was babies that CANT get vaccinations.

    Who did they catch whooping cough from?

    Your 10 year old unvaccinated brat.

    It makes me angry.

    Get vaccinated. It does not cause autism.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Sean

    California, eh? Interesting. I wonder how much of this is related to the "don't vaccinate your kids 'cuz they might become autistic" nonsense movement? Sad that adults are threatening their childrens' lives over pseudoscience.

    June 24, 2010 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. stanton cummings

    where did this Whooping cough epidemic come from? It had to have A point of origin.or was it brought into the u.s. from somewere else?

    June 24, 2010 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. nathan

    Really, 910 cases an epidemic? Even by stating this is an epidemic you have diluted future credibility as a health writer/producer.

    June 24, 2010 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Becks

    I am 47 and contracted whooping cough in November of 2009 – perhaps before. I am still recovering from this sickness. Folks – get a new vaccination – whooping cough is very unpleasant and debillitating. Take my word for it!

    June 24, 2010 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Citizen

    I wonder if illegal immigrants with poor (if any) history of childhood vaccinations is contributing to or causing this problem?

    June 24, 2010 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rex Remes

      Illegal immigrants (from any country) are typically poor. Meaning the odds of them being properly vaccinated is low. The large number of illegals in California (regardless of race or color) is probably a contributing factor.

      June 28, 2010 at 00:49 | Report abuse |
  21. Sy2502

    What's the big deal? I had whooping cough when I was a child. I didn't die, did I? I stayed home from school for a while, which at the time I thought was great. I think we are making too much of a big deal of childhood diseases. They build your immune system.

    June 24, 2010 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Liz in Seattle

    Have the cases been confined to certain regions of the state? Are there more cases than usual in surrounding states? We could really use more info, here, CNN.

    June 24, 2010 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Brandon Vakiner

    I am curious to find out how many of these cases involved individuals who were never vaccinated or allowed their vaccinations to lapse. There is so much attention paid the side-effects of vaccines and the MYTH that vaccines cause autism and may cause other long-term conditions. However, there is little attention paid to the FACT that vaccines prevent communicable disease and people die from communicable disease. Many argue they don't need to vaccinate their children because "those" diseases aren't around anymore. The reason "those" diseases aren't around is because people were vaccinated and created "herd immunity". The only way to keep the herd immune is to vaccinate the herd. CDC now recommends that all people who need a tetanus/diphtheria vaccine should receive tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis instead because we realize the pertussis vaccine has limited time of coverage. Please vaccinate your children and keep your own vaccinations up-to-date.

    June 24, 2010 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Saffron F., CVG

    "Oh my child MIGHT get autism if I get him his shots... why shouldn't I risk his life and that of other babies?' (even though it's been proven not to cause autism and whooping cough shots have NEVER been blamed for autism)... get a life and save your own child and that of babies too young to be immunized and get them their shots before it's too late... the whole "everyone else is immunized so I don't have to get my kids immunized' argument is old and inaccurate.

    June 24, 2010 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. bob lehr

    I had/have whooping cough since early March of this year. Dr. prescribed medicine which would kill the virus within two months, but I was told the remnants would last another three months.

    I had such coughing fits that I blacked out one time and fell face down like a dead man and hit my head on some free weights. Thank goodness I was not driving at the time.

    The coughing spells have diminshed but are still violent when they occur.

    June 24, 2010 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Rman

    Trajic how many have it...
    How bout a little ethnic background on the people who caught it....... Methinks it is Illegals because they come over here with no vaccinations at all spreading their diseases and our Social Services picks up the tab.....
    Wheres that fence at......

    June 24, 2010 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Elsie Elaine Connelly

    I was born in 1943, before they had the pertussis shot available. I almost died at the age of 15 months because of it. I remember very well having an out of body experience seeing my mother crying and my grandmother and father taking turns walking the floor with me, trying to keep me from dying. Yes I do believe in out of body experiences. I could tell you exactly what the room looked like, how sad it was to all. My older sister was there, she could tell you also.

    June 24, 2010 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. marianna

    I was just wondering if the children and babies who got whooping cough were immunized or if the number of children in the community that do not receive the immunization increase everybody's risk of getting the disease.


    June 24, 2010 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. David

    Could this once again be the case of selfish parents putting everyone else’s kids at risk by not having their own kids immunized?

    The only reason parents would even risk not immunizing their kids is because they are selfishly relying on the general immunity (herd immunity) of most children who do get immunized. I honestly think that there is nothing as selfish (and I would even say evil) as not having your child immunized. If those five babies died as a result of such behaviour (either of their own parents or those whose non-immunized children infected them) I think the parents should be charged with murder or at least negligent homicide.

    If there are small risks to immunization, they must be shared by all for the good of all. Just read any history book about what life was like before vaccines.

    June 24, 2010 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Concerned Citizen

    Wow, I wonder how all these 3rd world diseases are getting spread in states along the Mexican boarder.

    June 24, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. duffey

    This is very sad. Unfortunalty there are misguided parents who listen to celebraties about the connection between autisim and getting vaccines; eventough the science tells us differently. I wonder if Jim Carey attened any of those babies funerals?

    June 24, 2010 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. BK

    This article not at all helpful. CA is a BIIIG state. All that this article does is incite fear if no where mention is made of where the outbreak is occuring. Fear blurb.

    June 24, 2010 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Castmom

    Couldn't have anything to do with all the illegals that enter this country w/o health clearance and proper immunizations, could it???? hhuuummmm....

    June 24, 2010 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Cait

    Even if there was a supposed link between vaccinations and autism, Thimerosal, the preservative in the doses that was questionable, has since then been removed. There is no reason that anyone should not vaccinate their child. Besides, what would you rather have, a child that has autism or one that dies at an early age of some horrible infection?

    June 24, 2010 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. wantsumsleep

    The vaccine DOES NOT last a lifetime – or so they are saying. How do we know it is from kids not vaccinated? Adults can give this to the babies even though they may have been vaccinated as a child. Don't get me wrong, I do think that all kids should receive their shots.

    June 24, 2010 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • peacefulmom

      I agree with wantsumsleep that, if you read all the literature about Whooping Cough, that most infants get the disease from their unvaccinated parents, grandparents or caregivers. If you also read the literature, the vaccines that children get for Whooping cough do not provide long-term immunity and that most of the children with recent reported cases in CA, not including infants, had received all of their vaccines. I am a new mom to a second baby girl who is 3 weeks old and I live in San Diego. I am not a big proponent of the recommended vaccine schedule or for all vaccines recommended and have never gotten the flu shot nor did I get the H1N1 during my pregnancy. However, my husband, myself and our nanny went yesterday and received the vaccination for Pertussis and my 3 year-old is up-to-date on hers. I'm also requesting that my sister and her boyfriend who will be visiting us next week and anyone else spending a significant amount of time in my house around my infant to get the vaccine. I'm not messing around with this one!!

      June 26, 2010 at 13:40 | Report abuse |
  36. jim

    You can all expect a lot more of these epidemics now that California has become a third-world dumping ground.

    June 24, 2010 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. serene

    If 5 babies have died from it, it's people that don't want to immunize their kids plus the illegals that are doing it. Yes, one 47 year old caught it, but this is a childhood disease in CALIFORNIA.

    Come on, pay attention!!!

    June 24, 2010 at 15:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. IMHO

    The blame for an epidemic outbreak of pertussis lies not so much with illegal immigrants (an admitted potential source of infectious spread) as with parents who refused to have DPT inoculations administered to their infants following unsubstantiated reports linking vaccinations (MMR and DPT) with autism. Now their children do not have the immunity which would have been afforded by the shots.

    June 24, 2010 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. JP

    Wow! The Nazis are out in full force today blaming whooping cough on illegal immigrants. I apologize to those who are blaming the Norwegian, Swedish, Canadian and all other white illegals...you clearly are not a Nazi, just stupid.

    June 24, 2010 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Cait

    to nathan,

    910 cases is quite a bit considering that it is one of the highly communicable diseases listed on the CDC. Some of the others on that list are the Pneumonic Plague and Meningococcal Meningitis, so Pertussis should be treated the same. If 910 already have it, think about how quickly that can mulitply into hundreds of thousands. If this became pandemic level, then you would need to worry much more.

    June 24, 2010 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. samantha

    Check with your health care provider and make sure you are protected, make sure all kids immunizations up to date, then contact your congressman and say, we need to close our border, afterall, legal immigrants, have a physical and are innoculated, amongst other things to come to america, Illegals are not.

    June 24, 2010 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Jen

    I don't live in CA, but there is an outbreak in my county. When I found out I was pregnant I asked at my first appointment what vaccinations my husband should have updated and Pertussis was at the top of the list. I have also requested that the grandparents update their vaccinations and I will as soon as I am able. It's ridiculous to blame everything on illegals, when you could just as likely be carrying the disease if you haven't updated your vaccinations.

    June 24, 2010 at 16:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Kath

    Excuse me people, but you need to understand that yes, some people do have adverse reactions to immunizations!

    My oldest, after getting her first Pertussis vaccination, had her leg swell to double its size and had a fever of 103. Next DPT shot, same thing. Next DPT shot, same thing but her fever was 104.6.

    My second child also had leg swelling and fever with her DPT shots. After getting her 3rd pertussis vaccination, had a mild seizure and muscle spasms. We had to take her to emergency in the middle of the night.

    Our pediatrician said no more pertussis for her, and recommended that if we had any more kids, not to have them get the pertussis vaccination. I had 2 more kids, and they never got it – they only got the DT shots.

    A friend of mine had her daughter vaccinated, and her fever went up to 107 and was left with permanent brain damage. It was attributed to the pertussis vaccination.

    Is this rare? Yes it is. But I am glad that I didn't have my 2 younger kids vaccinated with pertussis. With my 2 oldest having such adverse reactions, I wasn't going to jeopardize my 2 youngest, especially after my friend having her daughter with permanent brain damage.

    So don't be so quick to judge us parents who make these choices. It is not child neglect.

    June 24, 2010 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • btjd

      Kath – kids like yours are the reason other parent's need to vaccinate their kids.

      Some children have legitimate medical reasons that they cannot be vaccinated for pertussis and other diseases. Those kids rely on the kids surrounding them having the vaccine immunity to stay healthy. Choosing not to have your child vaccinated for because its the latest trend means you are risking the health of your child and other children who did not have a choice.

      I got a booster a year and a half ago. I went into an urgent care needing a tetnus shot. The doctor told me that I would be getting a DTP because in her words, "we are seeing a rise in whooping cough cases from parents not vaccinating their kids." Because of that they were only ordering the DTP shots and boosting anyone who needed a tetnas. This was in NC.

      June 25, 2010 at 13:53 | Report abuse |
  44. lajenks

    Whooping cough was going around Michigan this past winter/spring. It's not just a California thing. The racist, anti-immigrant comments here are not helpful.

    June 24, 2010 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Emily

    You all are pointing fingers at parents who don't get their kids vaccinated. As a vaccination nurse the bigger problem is the parents who don't get themselves vaccinated. Like the article states most children get the vaccine but it doesn't last a lifetime. All adults need tetanus/diptheria/pertussis once as an adult. You still have to get tetanus/diptheria every ten years, but only need the whooping cough once as an adult. Most adults carry the bacteria in their nasal passages and spread it to infants and elderly... the groups as highest risk. The signs of whooping cough are severe coughing that can lead to vomiting, disturbed sleep, weight loss, rib fractures and passing out from violent coughing.

    June 24, 2010 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. whooper

    Parents who don't immunize their kids should pay more for their health insurance, just like other people who make bad health decisions. Like 5x more. If your choices put your kids and others' kids at greater risk, then you should pay for it.

    They should also be ineligible for public assistance.

    June 24, 2010 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Ian

    With my first child, I made my relatives, and in laws who would all have regular contact with my kid get updates on their shot. We also limited exposure to public places until my daughter recieved her shot. whooping cough is no joke. I hate it when people walk up and try to touch my baby. Did you wash your hands? Are you immunized? If you think, I am overreacting, you have never seen a baby turn blue because they can't breath.

    June 24, 2010 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Anna1228

    I wish people would stop blaming parents who choose to selectively vaccinate their children.
    The reality of the situation is that the vast majority of carriers of pertussis are actually adults. How many of you can say that you got your booster for that lately? No? Anybody? You're supposed to get it every 10 yrs.

    June 24, 2010 at 16:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Andra

      Because of my kids needing boosters, I ask everytime I go in for their boosters what I might need. I have been immunized for hep a b and the Dtap in the last year. In Texas schools if kids immunizations are not up to date, they are not allowed in school until they are as well as daycares. The problem is adults not staying current. The children of illegals are required to have their shots and the parents that refuse to have their children immunized kids stay home.

      June 26, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
  49. dan

    I must have missed it in the article, where did it say parents of children with autism caused this outbreak. If your child is vaccinated like mine is then they shouldn't get whooping cough. If they do get it then i would point the blame at the CDC for not producing a vaccine that protects our children. If your child is an infant and hasn't recieved their vaccines yet, then don't take out in public till they do.
    but stop blaming the autism community we ahve enough to deal with.

    June 24, 2010 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Dea

    It wears off in the middle year/high school years so the booster shots should be given every ten years with the tetanus booster. My son was the one who gave it to me five years ago, when he was in 7th grade. He was sick for two weeks, I was sick for four months. We lived in Germany at the time. When he was getting his shots for college this spring they gave him the pertusis shot too.

    Whooping cough is always around us, some people never develop the cough, but spread it. Some just look like they have a really bad cold, which is what the doctors said about my son, before they realized what was really going around. Some have the full blown illness like I did. Luckily for everyone around me I have a bad heart valve and got antibiotics a week into it so I wasn't contagious for long, I just lost my voice for two months and had four months of coughing so bad my ribs nearly broke.

    June 24, 2010 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
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