Pertussis activity spiking nationwide

Following the declaration by the California Department of Public Health of a pertussis epidemic, reports of pertussis activity have spiked nationwide.

As of June 15, reports, California 910 reported cases, with 600 potential cases still under investigation. According to the state's health department, the disease, most commonly referred to as whooping cough, has killed five infants in California this year.

On June 19, the CDC reported that 5,120 cases of pertussis had been reported nationwide. That number is lower than last year's 6,236 reported cases at this time, reports, but several states have reported increases in activity, including Texas, with 1,154 cases, Ohio, with 523 cases, Michigan, with 380 cases, and Arizona, with 163 cases.

South Carolina also reported in a Department of Health and Environmental Council public health advisory that pertussis cases were above the epidemic threshold, with 81 confirmed or probable cases in the first 20 weeks of 2010.

According to the CDC, many infants are infected by those around them who don't realize they have the disease. More than half of infants less than one year of age who get the disease should be hospitalized, the CDC said, adding that one in 20 infants who contract pertussis will get pneumonia.

The CDC says that adolescents and adults should receive the childhood vaccine DTaP even if they were vaccinated as children, as its protection fades over time.