In California, diagnosed instances of whooping cough, or pertussis, are reaching incredibly high levels. Compared to this time last year, several counties in California are reporting an increased presence in the potentially fatal disease. By mid-June, so many cases of whooping cough had been reported that the California Department of Public Health proclaimed the state to be in the middle of a whooping cough epidemic.
At this point, the facts don't lie. The Golden state has a real health crisis on its hands. So far in 2014, more than 5,400 cases of whooping cough have been reported. That's up from a total of 2,372 examples reported last year. In San Diego County, almost 900 victims have been reported. This time last year, the same area had only seen 120 cases of Pertussis (and only 431 in the whole of 2013). Monterey County has 74, up from 13 this time last year.
Yolo county, however, seems to be getting hit hardest in terms of percentages. Last year, for the entirety of 2013, Yolo county saw 4 cases of Pertussis. This year alone, they've already been hit with 80. For those doing the math, that's a 2,000% increase.
While the sighted cases so far range in age from infants to the geriatric, nearly two-thirds of victims hospitalized by the disease are four months old or younger. That's scary when you consider that whooping cough is most deadly in young children.
According to people who know, Pertussis operates on a 3 to 5 year cycle, which means that the disease is theoretically at it's deadliest every 3 to 5 years. That said, the number of reported instances of pertussis has continued to rise steadily since the mid-nineties. In 2012, the CDC reported 48,277 cases of whooping cough; that's the highest recorded verified number since 1955, which was, coincidentally, right about the time the Pertussis vaccine became widely available.
Okay, now for the good news. Though California seems to have some stuff to worry about, it seems the rest of us are fairly safe. While California's numbers are skyrocketing, the Center for Disease Control reports only 9,964 cases of whooping cough across the United States. That's up 24% from 2013, but it would appear most whooping cough sufferers are out in Cali..
Still not convinced? Need a bigger picture to look at? Check out this graph from the CDC that charts the number of cases of whooping cough we're looking at now versus the number they faced in, say, 1922. You're welcome.
The CDC (and pretty much every semi-educated person on the planet) maintains that vaccinations are still the most effective way to combat the disease. Pregnant women in their third trimesters as well as children aged 2, 4 and 6 months are urged to get vaccinations for Pertussis.