Whooping cough returning on the West Coast

Whooping cough is making a comeback on the West Coast, HealthNews reports in a May 30 article.

The report states that California state health officials are concerned that whooping cough coming back to the West coast.

According to the report, whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has been the cause of death for four newborns in the first four months of 2010 in California.

The report cites a Los Angeles Times story that says the strategy touted by health officials to preventing a pertussis outbreak is called "cocooning," meaning that all people in contact with a newborn baby - from parents to siblings and beyond - should be vaccinated.

If ignored, whooping cough can lead to pneumonia, ear infections and seizures in young children, especially newborns, according to the HealthNews report.

Whooping cough is spread through the air and starts with often innocuous symptoms, including runny nose, sneezing and a general body ache. It then turns into a wheezing cough, which can include high-pitched whooping noises, the report states.

Vaccines for pertussis/whooping cough do not last a lifetime, so HealthNews suggests getting a booster shot and says that anyone who is uncertain of whether or not they have received a whooping cough vaccine should consult a doctor.