Whooping cough epidemic in California kills five

Health officials in California have reported that almost 1,000 cases of whooping cough have been confirmed in the state since June 15, with five infant deaths attributed to the outbreak.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, has been declared an epidemic by state health officials in California, reports.

Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health, told that this may possibly be the highest number of illnesses and death due to the disease in 50 years.

In April 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced a new campaign called Protect Tomorrow. The goal of the campaign is to warn people that diseases of the past that were thought to be eradicated are starting to resurface in some areas. The campaign also strongly urged parents to vaccinate children to prevent this.

Despite Protect Tomorrow, California health officials report the number of confirmed cases of whooping cough have risen from 219 cases last year to 910 confirmed cases for June of this year. There are also still 600 potential cases that are waiting to be confirmed, according to

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by inflamed and swollen areas of the larynx. Early symptoms are similar to that of a common cold, including runny nose, sneezing and low grade fever. A persistent cough and laborious breathing usually follow.

Health officials are encouraging California residents to get a booster shot of the whooping cough vaccine.