Whooping cough is a highly infectious bacterial infection that affects people of all ages, but is most severe in children. It was first recognised after a whooping cough epidemic in Paris in 1578. It was then known as the ‘dog bark’, the ‘chin’ cough or ‘kin’ cough, meaning ‘convulsive’ cough.
A whooping cough vaccine was first developed in the 1950s and was not seen much in the United States until recently.
Since the beginning of 2010, around 2,500 cases of the disease has been found in California and of these, five infants have died. This has prompted the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to notify California physicians that more advance tests need to be done to help diagnose whooping cough. California is now considering whooping cough to be a state-wide epidemic.
California is one U.S. state that allows parents of school children to choose not to have their child immunized. This is possibly one of the reasons for the rise in the disease as the most cases are found in areas where children have not received the vaccine.
Authorities at the (CDC) say that the lack of immunization among middle school age children is the main reason for the rise in the disease. Thirty-nine U.S. states require that a child receive a booster shot for whooping cough at middle school age. The Center for Disease Control has advised everyone, including adults in California and other states with higher than average cases, to get a booster vaccination.
Five states besides California have also seen a rise in the number of whooping cough with Texas leading the list. The other states include:
- South Carolina.
South Carolina is the only other state where cases have reached the epidemic threshold.
The pertussis vaccine is not 100 percent effective and if this respiratory infection is in a community there is a chance that a person who has received the vaccine or a booster still may get the disease.