Health officials searching for source of California pertussis outbreak

Federal health officials are currently searching for the cause of what is set to be California’s worst pertussis, or whooping cough, outbreak in the last 50 years, in hopes that the information may be able to slow the disease's transmission.

Experts believe, however, that more than one factor could be at play, according to There are two major possibilities for the cause of the outbreak, which was detected in March. First, there is the possibility that, because of safety concerns, parents have stopped fully vaccinating their children. Second, doctors have ceased to offer full vaccinations because of remuneration concerns.

"Pertussis is very contagious," Dr. Gilberto Chavez, chief of the California Department of Public Health Center for Infectious Diseases, told, "It's very much vaccine-preventable. It is very important that providers think of pertussis when they have patients who show up with symptoms."

The Department of Public Health has declared that California is facing an epidemic as opposed to simply the resurgence of a once controllable disease. There have been more than 1,490 cases of pertussis since 2010 began, with another 700 under investigation. Six infants in California have died from the illness to date. Physicians have issued new vaccine recommendations to try and staunch the flood of new patients.

The Centers for Disease Control noted that while South Carolina and Michigan have both seen a rise in the number of pertussis cases, neither is in as desperate a state as California.